Kolkata, a place knitted with love and emotion. The look of the city changes during the time of the great festival adorned with lights and pretty decorations. The fun, food and the fervor that Durga Puja brings along with it is something which cannot be replicated. That feeling of sheer delight and creating new memories with your near and dear ones is what everyone looks forward to during this time of the year. If you have been to Kolkata during Durga Puja, you must have understood why it is known as the City of Joy. During these four days, the Puja fever grips the heart of everyone in the city despite age, caste, class or gender. Here in this article I would tell you 9 interesting things to know about the Festival of Durga Puja.
1. Two pujas: Durga Puja is not only about the mighty pandals. We can see two different kinds of Puja and other than the rituals, both are different from each other. The ‘para’ (locatlity) puja adorned with lights, designs, themes, ideas and crowd has its own appeal. The other one is ‘barir’ (home) puja, adding a homely effect. It brings people closer to their roots at the same time celebrating homecoming. Barir Pujo can be seen in the old houses of North Kolkata or the affluent households of South Kolkata mostly
2. The Idols: The most important part of the gala event is the idols of Durga and her children. Without the idols, the puja will be incomplete. Durga in her full avatar is seen stabbing Mahishaura while riding the Lion. Saraswati and Karthika stand to her left whereas to her right, you will find Lakshmi, Ganesha.
3. Dhaak : With every beat of the dhaak, the heart of all Bengali dances with enthusiasm. It is an indispensable part of the Durga Puja. The music dominates the mood of Kolkata with its impressive rhythm right from the day of ‘Sasthi.
4. Sandha Arati: Every evening of Durga Puja is a grand festival itself. Drums, brasses and bells welcome the new day with dance and the dhunuchi naach. Sandha Arati or the Evening Offering is an intrinsic part of the rituals. The chant and incantations keep going till the next morning.
5. Dhunuchi Naach: Dhunuchi Naach is the special attraction during the Durga Puja celebration. People enjoy performing this traditional dance holding earthen lamps with searing coconut shell in both hands before the Goddess. The beat of the dhaak is accompanied by the rhythmic moves of their dancing feet. The excitement is at its apex and crowd cheersalong with it. This is an exciting part of the gala show.
6: Pushpanjali: Another ritualistic part of the Durga Puja celebration is the Pushpanjali. Flowers are offered with devotion to the holy feet of the Goddess. However, the Pushpanjali on the morning of Maha Ashtami has lots of significance. Almost everyone fasts till this ritual is completed, sporting their best traditional attire.
7. Kumari Puja: Goddess Durga is worshipped in many forms throughout the entire festival. One of the most significant form is the Kumari (virgin). A young girl within the age between one to sixteen years is selected beforehand. During the morn of Ashtami, the Kumari girl is worshipped in front of the Durga idol. This ritual is considered as the purest form of worship.
8: Sindur Khela: Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja , fills every Bengali’s heart with sadness. On this day, married women huddles at the Puja pandals and smear each other with sindur (vermillion), in the same manner like playing with colours in Holi. This ritual signifies the farewell of Goddess Durga.
9: Immersion: The immersion of the idols of the Goddess and her family is the final ceremony of the Durga Puja festival that leaves every Bengali teary eyed. Bengalis across the country bid final farewell to the Divine Mother on Maha Dashami, or last day of the festival. The immersion is followed by dazzling processions accompanied by the beats of dhaak, all the way to the river bank. Hundreds of devotees follow the procession and catch the last glimpse of the Goddess during immersion.