Since my childhood, the Puja festivities for me not only meant delving into the fragrance of the shiuli phool (flower) or coming across several clubs and associations striving to prepare the pandals but waking up daily at six in the morning to the melodious beats of the dhak.
The five days of holiday during the Puja are not exactly considered ‘holidays’ but an opportunity to venture out in order to catch a glimpse of the divine goddess in all her avatars.
I have always been an enthusiast about Durga Puja. My love and excitement varied all day, starting from offering anjali on Ashtami morning to the delicacies it brought along in the face of mishti doi and luchi aloodum. My never-dying love for khichudi served during bhog with shukto and payesh (sweet rice pudding) remains unaltered even today.
Being a resident of South Kolkata, I have been an ardent visitor of Maddox Square Durgotsav on Ashtami nights.
The famous spot for big gangs and the elite crowd, Maddox Square is a favorite amongst all youngsters. Many can be seen hanging out in the early hours of the morning when most people try to rest, amidst all the pomp and celebrations.
However, the best part has always been pandal hopping. Be it North Kolkata’s Dumdum Park Sarbojanin Durgotsav or South Kolkata’s Suruchi Sangha Durgotsav.
Every year is a platform for new artists and as they get to showcase a new aura in the air, filled with energy and positivity.
Apart from the hoo-ha, the power that lies in the eyes of the deity is a symbol of strength and determination.
Goddess Durga is considered an inspiration for the modern women having the willpower to defeat demons or alike.
Another attraction for the kids during the festival is the colorful paper windmills, which are sold on the streets with vendors blowing paper horns in a symphony.
With the roadside stalls selling all types of food, the city is lit up like a bride, leaving no corner in shades of grey.
For years now, people have been moving out of the city in search of better work opportunities.
To all those workaholics- It’s time to step back into your city! Come home for this puja. Spend some time with your old buddies and your family, dance to the beats of the dhak, witness the mind-blowing dhunuchi naach.
Stick around all night and eat till your belly gives up. Let’s utilise this festival and not waste it (by clicking mindless selfies).
Come and dive into the true spirit of the culture because there is no place like our city, these five days of the year, every year!