The most widely celebrated festival of India that observes the triumph of good over evil is finally here. Goddess Durga is all dressed up and ready to come home tomorrow at the oldest Durga Puja pandal of Durga Bari Samiti at Grant Road, which marks 93 years of its existence this year.
The rituals and extravagance of the festivities are circled around the worship and veneration of the divine goddess Durga. Like every year, the craftsmanship and meticulous preparations to invoke the deity to the pandal will leave you galvanised this year as well.
Ahead of the actual celebration of Shashti puja, if you happen to step into the Tejpal hall you are in for a wonderful surprise. The fervour and devotion is palpable in the air. You see women of the Durga Bari Samiti busy adorning the deity and her accompanying idols, known as Durga’s children.
We learn that it took the Samiti members over six months to plan this festivity. Starting from approaching an artist from Kolkata and make the idols for the pandal to giving the final touches to the idol of Maa Durga and other idols – keeping as close to tradition as possible yet making the idols look magnificent. The theme of the idol this year is Notun alo: New light – “looking at the world in a new light – looking at life through a new lens.”
With handcrafted jewellery made of fine wires called Taarer Shaaj – a dying art from the interiors of West Bengal is beautifully adorned over the striking pink colour of eco-friendly Maa Durga idol made using water-soluble colours and material which can completely dissolve in water.
Each year, the pandal hosts more than 20,000 people. We learn this year too the footfall is expected to be about the same number. The five-day festivity will begin with bringing Ma Durga to the pandal on an elephant which signifies peace and prosperity.
On the first day ‘Shashti‘ there will be Bodhon puja, which is done after instilling the idol. The seventh day is celebrated with Maha Saptami puja followed by Pushpanjali. On Saptami, we learn, that the pandal hosts over 3,500 visitors including children from slum areas.
Ashtami is the most important day which sees Shondi Puja where one hundred and eight diyas are lit-up to worship Maa Durga. The ninth day is Kumari Puja which sees dhunuchi naach and sindur khela – dhaakis (drums) -one of the most special attraction this year, we are told. The goddess will bid adieu on the last day as she leaves on a horse to come back again the next year.
Apart from prepping the idol, the Durga Puja celebrations also include offering multiple prayers —evening, late night, and prahar pooja to the goddess, and the 36 bhog on the last day following the Vijayadashmi visarjan process.