Shubho Mahalaya ~ Spirit of Durga Pujo!

Shubho Mahalaya! Picture taken at Komurtulli - the place where all the Pujo magic is created!
Shubho Mahalaya! Picture taken at Komurtulli – the place where all the Pujo magic is created!

I love grand festivals, and I cannot lie!

It’s true! As much as I once complained about water balloons and air pollution and goat sacrifice, I have now realized how festivals, when celebrated in the right spirit, are just another reason to have fun! Laugh a little, know your neighbors, forget about your work stress, dance with strangers on the street! And you know what’s more important about festivals? How they can become the reason someone falls in love with a city!

Hate the traffic all you want, but you can’t deny how joyous Mumbai is around Ganesh Chaturthi or Navratri. I visited Vrindavan during Holi this year, and even while I continue to hate being colored by known AND unknown people alike, I will count it as one of my top travel experiences. And you know another such great city-festival match made in heaven? Durga Pujo in Kolkata!

Now, I have visited Kolkata several times over the last few years, and not once did I enjoy it as much as I did over the 4 days of Pujo 2015! The city is alive, every face is lit up with a smile, every stranger has a greeting and every step has a bounce. Pandals go all out, not just with decorations and festivities, but also educational and environmentally friendly themes. In fact, ironic as it is, even while a vague attempt is visible at maintaining the religious motive of the festival, worship is the last thing on anyone’s mind. People are out there with their families, dressed up to the T, enjoying the lavish feast laid out at every pandal, dancing to the music, feasting their eyes to how colorful and vibrant the city is. Pujo in Kolkata is more a community gathering than a religious celebration.

And above all, what I loved about Pujo in Kolkata, the symbolism attributed to every idol of the imitable Goddess. 4 days of celebrating Durga as a mother of Saraswati (nowhere else do you see this), Durga as a warrior defeating the demon Mahishasura (Thus earning the title of Mahishasura Mardini), Durga as a daughter returning to her homeland for the autumn break, and Durga as our dearest motherland, basking in the glorious cries of Bandemataram (Hail Mother)!

I saved these pictures for all of last year, waiting to feel a little nostalgic while browsing through them, waiting for the start of Pujo 2016, waiting for Kolkata, and the rest of India, to welcome Mahisasuramardini once again! And today it is, Shubho Mahalaya everyone! 😀

 

Just chilling!
Just chilling!

 

A potters workshop in Komurtuli!
A potters workshop in Komurtulli!

 

A potters workshop in Komurtuli!

 

A potters workshop in Komurtulli!

 

In the making!
In the making!

 

A potter at work in his workshop at Komurtulli!
A potter at work in his workshop at Komurtulli!

 

A lady sitting on the street, making idols for Pujo!A lady sitting on the street, making idols for Pujo!

 

Adorning the palms of the Goddess with some traditional kumkum.
Adorning the palms of the Goddess with some traditional kumkum.

 

Painting the idol, one step at a time!
Painting the idol, one step at a time!

 

Multi-tasking is definitely one of the many powers!
Multi-tasking is definitely one of the many powers!

 

Finishing touches to the idol!
Finishing touches to the idol!

 

WIP at a potters workshop in Komurtulli!
WIP at a potters workshop in Komurtulli!

 

Artists taking a power-nap after a tough day at work!
Artists taking a power-nap after a tough day at work!

 

Customers taking their idols back home from the workshops!
Customers taking their idols back home from the workshops!

 

A pandit performing the traditional inititation puja on the first day after istallation of the idol at the temple!
A pandit performing the traditional initiation puja on the first day after installation of the idol at the temple!

 

You've gotta love the sarees, and you've gotta love 'em all!
You’ve gotta love the sarees, and you’ve gotta love ’em all!

 

The festival when everything is up and alive in Kolkata!
The festival when everything is up and alive in Kolkata!

 

A glorious idols of Durga at one of the pandals in Kolkata!
A glorious idols of Durga at one of the pandals in Kolkata!

 

A glorious idol of Goddess Durga at one of the pandals in Kolkata!
A glorious idol of Goddess Durga at one of the pandals in Kolkata!

 

Bright, colorful and full of life - one of my favorite idols from Durga Pujo 2015!
Bright, colorful and full of life – one of my favorite idols from Durga Pujo 2015!

 

The eyes that do all the magic! Shubho Mahalaya, yougaiz!
The eyes that work all the magic! Shubho Mahalaya, yougaiz!

 

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