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! 😀
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