Today I will proudly let you know about a gorgeous festival in my state, West Bengal in India. The name of the festival is “Durga Puja” in our language, and it means the worship of the hindu goddess named “Durga”. This festival takes place every year in the month of October (or September). Some other states in India and even some other countries celebrate this occasion. For the hindu bengali population in West Bengal, this is the most significant festival and one of the most important social and cultural event, which is celebrated throughout five consecutive days.
The Durga puja has been celebrated since the medieval period. During the 18th century, the worship of Durga became popular among the rich families of Bengal. They initiated Durga Puja at their residences, but the festivities were celebrated as a community. Today, the culture of Durga puja has shifted from the rich houses to Sarbojanin (means “involving all”) forms. Now-a-days, almost all the people of certain locality pays some subscription and with that collected money a Durga puja takes place in each locality. For Sarbojanin Durga puja, generally a pandal (a temporary structure) is made. A Durga idol is bought from the expert idol-makers and the idol is placed inside the pandal. Actually there are several idols, the idol of Durga stays in the middle and the idols of her children “Laxmi”, “Saraswati”, “Ganesha” and “Kartik” are kept on both sides. This whole set of idols are worshipped for five days. Durga Puja is very symbolic because it tries to portray the winning of “good” (goddess Durga) over the “evil” (Mahishasur, the demon). It is a worship of power of “good” which always wins over the evil. Generally, the idol of goddess has ten hands, each hand holding a weapon to kill the demon.
Today’s Durga Puja in West Bengal, goes far beyond religion. It is one of the largest outdoor art festival on earth and people from all religions and all countries come to experience this event. The art displayed during the Durga puja, in the form of stylish idols and extravagant pandals, is very rich and intricate.
I hope you will enjoy my clicks of the pandals and the idols. These are from last year’s Durga puja. You are welcome to comment or ask questions, if you have any.