Durga Puja Celebrations in West Bengal•
Posted on September 17 2021
Durga Puja is celebrated by Hindus all over the country but West Bengal is where one gets to witness the grandest Durga Puja celebrations. The festival occurs in either September or October every year and is celebrated to mark the triumph of Maa Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Thus, the celebration marks the victory of good over evil. It is primarily celebrated with maximum fanfare and fervour in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal. Needless to say, this is the key cultural and most prominent festival of the state. Almost all streets in the state are lit up with LED lights and Rabindra Sangeet and traditional music are played loudly.
Read on to know how differently Durga Puja is celebrated in West Bengal when compared to other parts of the country.
Siliguri Durga Puja
Siliguri is a city in West Bengal where you can witness one of the best Durga Puja celebrations in the state. The first Durga Puja in this city was held as early as 1955. The celebrations begin as early as 3 AM in most areas like Hakimpara, Saktigarh, Central Colony and Rabindra Sangha. Beautiful pandals are put up in various parts of the city with enchanting idols of Goddess Durga. These idols are typically sculpted from clay and painted in vibrant colours.
Music and Dance
The city comes to life with a lot of music and dance programmes. These take place in both indoor banquet rooms and outdoor stages. People of all age groups participate in these programmes that make them all the livelier. The dance and music programmes give people an opportunity to bond with others who share their interests. No Durga Puja celebration in the state is complete without them.
Dress in Traditional Attire
Durga Puja is typically the time for Bengalis to sport their traditional attire. Women wear a red and white sari with a red bindi and matching bangles made of conch shells and red corals. However, the bangles are not worn by unmarried women This traditional sari is known as the lal par sari. Men opt for kurtas with simple embroidery or shirts with a dhoti. This attire is often worn on the last five days of the festival.
All shops, big and small, come to life during Durga Puja. They house a wide range of interesting items for shopaholics. Some shops also host a shopping and extravaganza or lucky draws to attract customers towards them. People shop for just about anything such as jewellery, clothes, toys, home decors and utensils. You might even see street shops competing with one another to sell the same products at the best price and customers bargaining with the shopkeepers for a good deal.
This is undoubtedly an integral part of the Durga Puja celebrations in the state. Several pandals are erected across the state. These are temporary structures that are pulled down after the celebrations. The pandals are usually lit up and crowded at night and open almost all through the night. Howrah is home to the most beautiful pandals in the state while Durgapur has the best idols of Maa Durga created by craftsmen and artisans from all over the state.
Each pandal is decorated with a unique decorative style or theme. Most of them exhibit intricate art work and craftsmanship while some of them have food stalls with local delicacies to tickle the tastebuds of their visitors. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare are available. The streets are usually crowded and so people prefer to walk from one pandal to another.
Kola Bou Bath Ritual
This ritual takes place before dawn on Saptami or the seventh day of the festival on the banks of the Hooghly river. People bathe a tender banana tree in the river. This bath is referred to as nabapatrika snan. The tree is then dressed in a saree like a bride known as kola bou or banana bride and placed on the right side of a Ganesha idol. A priest then chants some mantras to transport the energy of Goddess Durga into the banana tree.
Durga Puja is undoubtedly the best way to witness the rich heritage and culture of West Bengal. While most states celebrate this festival for six days, the celebration extends to 10 days in this state. Most organisations and shops are closed during the last four days starting from Saptami to Dashami. Interestingly, the celebration style often changes every year that makes witnessing the merriments a truly spectacular sight.