“Maa asche..matro r ko ak din baki..” which means the idol of Durga, the most awaited festival of Kolkata is coming in a few days from now.
Although a festival is for all. Regardless of caste and creed, a festival brings happiness and joyful moments in everyone’s life. But, when I talk about the ‘Durga Puja’ it is predominantly a festival celebrated by Bengalis. A celebration which is no less than a carnival, and depicts our Bengali culture.
I have grown up staying in Kolkata and enjoyed the Durga Puja session each year. For the past three years; I haven’t got the chance to visit my hometown during this festive time which I terribly miss. Even this year too, I had to give it a miss for some reasons.
You won’t believe until you see the city how beautiful and vibrant does it look during this time. The city, its people everyone waits for this festival to come. People believe that the arrival of Goddess Durga will shower happiness and merriment in our life and will take away all the pain and struggles.
“A holy moment to hope for the good.”
Now, I will tell you what we love to do during the days of Durga Puja in Kolkata. How we Bengalis celebrate and why it is a part of our life.
- The most obvious Shopping
So, the last-minute shopping is done. Everyone is rushing to the shopping malls, grabbing the best-designed clothes at a fantastic festive deal. If it is not sufficient or didn’t get time to shop then online platforms like Myntra, Jabong, Flipkart and Amazon are the best with a huge collection.
I am heavily dependent on online shopping as it saves my time and I often get a superb sale which is a respite to my wallet.
- The countdown begins with Mahalaya
With Mahalaya; the first day of the auspicious festival sets the mood. We love to start this particular day by listening to the special Mahalaya chants. These chants are spiritual, and almost all the Bengalis love hearing to them early in the morning of Mahalaya.
- Puja special edition
Every magazine publishing house releases a Puja special edition which we Bengalis follow enthusiastically. These special edition magazines consist of things and events happening around Kolkata during these puja days, like the latest fashion to follow, and several other entertainment stuffs.
I remember, how I used to buy the Bengali “Anandamela” magazine from the local newspaper salesperson each year before the festival gets started. So, basically, we go through these magazines because they publish pretty amazing things during these festive times.
- No mood for work or study
Durga Puja is a festival that we keep waiting for the year.
How could we concentrate on work or study? Because our concentration is always on what to do these 5 days, where to go, what to wear to look the best and it’s an unending list that the mind occupies.
Most of the corporate offices remain closed on these 3 auspicious days (Ashtami, Novomi, and Doshomi). Schools and Colleges remain closed during Durga Puja.
- Waking up with the sounds of ‘Dhak.’
Well, there is no escape from the beat of ‘dhakis.’ Dhak is a musical instrument which in layman’s word we say ‘drum.’
The early morning ‘dhak bajna’ means the ‘rhythmic sound of the drum beating‘ which is so hypnotic and it makes your heart feel alive and cheerful.
Durga Puja without dhak er awaj (drum beating) is impossible.
I love the spellbinding rhythmic sound of the drum beating. I feel like to dance. It gives me a different happy feeling.
- Saying no to food is a crime
If you are on a diet?
It is better to forget about that for these 5 days.
Imagine you are surrounded with a lot of varieties of some lip-smacking food, and you can’t taste it.
Of course, be it any festival one should always enjoy, and the food is one such way that keeps us happy.
You can never resist yourself with Kolkata’s famous kathi roll, puchka, chaat, kobiraji, bhog in the pandal etc etc.
- We don’t forget to post pictures in Social Media
“Hey tag me also if you are posting on Facebook and don’t forget to post all the picture.”
With social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, posting pictures nowadays seems to have become an important thing to do.
“I still don’t understand why there is such an urgency of posting pictures in social media. During my days, there wasn’t this much craze of social media. I didn’t even have an account with any of this. Unlike now, I didn’t have that privilege of buying a smartphone. My first handset was a Nokia simple phone with no camera.
I can feel the difference, and I had enjoyed way more in those growing years than now.”
Anyways, let us move from my story to what we do now during the Durga Puja days.
Festival is a great time for gathering with family, old friends, and neighbors. Because it is a 5 days occasion people have time to meet and gather around. Those who live outside of Kolkata for work they also try to come.
Like me, I live in Pune which is in Maharashtra; a western state in India. I try to go home during this time and if I can I make plans with my old childhood buddies to meet and ‘adda‘ which means ‘a friendly get together‘. It always feels amazing to be around friends and family.
But modern life doesn’t allow that to happen every time whenever we want, so a special occasion like Durga Puja is an appropriate time to share some amazing moments with some amazing people of our life.
- Ashtomi is always a special day for ‘Onjoli’
‘Onjoli’ is a short prayer to Goddess Durga where we chant some ‘montro‘ meaning rhythmic slogan or Vedic hymn with flowers in hand.
We take an early morning shower, wear clean clothes and go to the ‘mandap’ (temple) to perform the prayer.
- Doshomi Visarjon – Sindoor khela and special misti (sweets)
‘Doshomi‘ is the last day of the festival where the idol of Goddess Durga is being immersed in the water which is called ‘Visorjon’.
It feels little sad watching the idol getting immersed and at the same time the feeling of departure to our old monotonous and busy life.
During this day, most of the local sweet shops make special sweets like ‘goja’, ‘mihidana’, ‘jalebi’, and several other varieties which are truly delicious.
‘Sindoor khela’ (vermilion) is something that every married woman plays after they take blessings from the Goddess Durga. It is a fun activity with cultural value.
In the end, I would say, we Bengalis have a unique way to celebrate the most happening festival in Kolkata. If you ever want to visit Kolkata I would suggest you come to this festival; you will be awestruck to see how everything in the city looks unimaginably gorgeous.
If you want to share your experience or anything related to Durga Puja, I would be happy to know.