Come Durga Puja, Bengalis in Kolkata – and elsewhere – go berserk with joy. The fever and frenzy of Puja grip the city. A month or two before the festival, the markets of Gariahat, Hatibagan, and New Market are choked with women. The local clubs start promoting the theme of the puja pandals. The shopping malls are inundated with discount offers on clothing and apparels. Here’s a report by Souma on the Durga Puja special feature, exclusively for Different Truths.
India debates on gender equality and women empowerment even though Hindu mythology portrays women power demolish the evil. We celebrate the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahisasura – the evil, every year with renewed fervor.
Kolkata becomes the melting pot of celebrations. A month or two before the festival, the markets of Gariahat, Hatibagan and New Market are choked with women. The local clubs start promoting the theme of the puja pandals. The monsoons leave ending the misery of deluge on the streets of Kolkata. The sun shines brighter and amidst high rises you find woolen strip of white clouds scattered all over the sky. The grass of Maidan reach knee height and the Victoria Memorial, overlooking the Maidan, looks resplendent against the blue sky.
The shopping malls are inundated with discount offers on clothing and apparels. The new clothes ring the advent of Goddess Durga. There are long queues in front of billing counters and occupied trial rooms, spirited kids play all around shop floor and women display similar branded bags, sold at unbelievable prices.
The work of under constructed roads, under passes, flyovers are sped up to meet the festival deadline. The temporary diversions make traffic pathetic. The short cut roads, lanes, and bye-lanes are encroached by bamboo structures. The structures grow larger day by day. Thousands of Durga idols line up by the banks of the Hooghly River, in Kumartuli, and several photographers visit Kumartuli to capture the artists’ final touches.
Crores of transactions take place in Burrabazar. The roadside designer saree shops, near MG Road, display their best products on mannequins. Advertisement boards line up the roadside. Sergeants of Kolkata Police are on their toes to ease out traffic. The traffic snarl swells and driving becomes hectic. The movement of traffic is almost restricted. Auto drivers double the fare for taking the long cut to avoid traffic snarls.
Each square inch on or beside the roads become invaluable.
With Mahalaya, you find government offices half empty. People flock the streets in groups. The ladies display their couture – saree, dresses, bangles and jewellery. A day later, people start pandal hopping at night. The crowd expands exponentially and even walking on the streets seems impossible.
With Sasthi (sixth day) the rituals start. Goddess Durga stays for five days and on the final day she is carried away for immersion. Her stay is for a short time but the preparations are huge and fathomless. The huge bamboo structures and the idols are all vanished after these five days. So much time and money are spent on them but everything finally bites the dust. But Kolkata won’t stop. She will rise again. She will prepare herself for Diwali – the festival of lights and keep her spirit alive forever and next year Kolkata will welcome the Goddess even with greater grandeur.
©Souma Kanti Roy
Pix from Net.
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