Monday, 29 September 2014

Let the Festivities Begin! #DurgaPuja2014

Photograph: Saimantick Bhadra |

"Maa ashchhe!"

If you're a Bengali, or you've lived in Bengal at some point in your life, or been here in the city at least once during the festive season, you know exactly how much passion and excitement those words carry.

The most anticipated days of the year are finally here. After the long and anxious year of awaiting, Maa Durga is amidst us again, taking the usual five-day detour on her heavenly destination. But Durga Puja, to us, is so much more than five days of paying homage to the goddess. It has evolved from being a religious occasion to a cultural celebration. Puja is a span of five days when everybody, irrespective of their social coverings, come together in one gala frenzy of joy and celebration. It is a week of delving into happiness, forgetting sorrows, keeping aside all petty worries, all trials and tribunals.

This is the week when the city of Kolkata comes to life like no other. The clock never stops, and you can see people pouring out by the millions onto the streets every single minute of every day - be it in the heat of the afternoon, or the wee hours of night. Durga Puja brings with it sights, sounds and smells that you would not find anywhere in the remaining 360 days of the year.

Photograph: Saimantick Bhadra |

A look around the various "Pandals" (temporary structures that house the clay idol of the deity) fills you with wonder. The amount of planning, precision and effort that goes into making a structure that will be taken down after just five days is astonishing, almost unbelievable. And this keeps going on, year after year, the pandals getting better, more decorated, more innovative every year.

Words fail to describe the atmosphere that prevails in every nook and corner of the great city during the Pujas. If you haven't experienced it, you will never understand. These are moments that last a lifetime.

The situation in my birthplace, Kolkata, during the great festival of Durga Puja can better be imagined than described. I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very happy and enjoyable Durga Puja. Have a great time, and make memories that keep you smiling all your life. Bring out the new clothes, show off those new shoes. These are the days when the whole city decorates itself to perfection. Live the annual spectacle, soak in the grandeur.

Sharodiya Shubhechha. 

Photographs: Saimantick Bhadra |