When is the best time to be in Kolkata ? I get that asked a lot. Scenes of the winter sun splashing its warmth on the city flash through my mind, but “DURGA PUJA” is what I come up with. Undoubtedly. Every time. Because if you aren’t in Kolkata during this time, you are definitely missing something.
Kolkata has often been called the city with a soul. And that’s when the soul really comes alive. Brushing aside all our mundane mediocrities, and the burden of a daily routine, we gear up in all our new clothes to embrace the Puja Spirit ! We ask for strength from the Devi. Ever wonder what that is ? Nothing but the strength to keep us going through the hardships of life, all through the year, till the next time. It’s our yearly recharge period. Plug in, get rejuvenated, flush out the negatives and bounce back with renewed vigor.
I know many may disagree with me, saying that they find the congestion and noise in the streets too much to take. But … #HatersGonnaHate
(They are advised to pop some sedative pills or inject themselves with some anesthetics to help them hibernate throught the stressful period! Reading our article Things to do for a Good Sleep may also help 😛 )
Of course intense Pandal hopping is not something I endorse. Not anymore at least. I now prefer intense adda sessions with friends, interspersed with visits to some selected Pandals. After all it’s during the pujas that most Bengalis come home to where they truly belong and so there’s not a better time to catch up with old friends.
However, for many, the puja can never be complete without the mandatory Maddox visit, or the durgabari flirtings, the whole night North Kolkata trips, or the quintessential eat-outs. The Ashtami Anjali and the Para bhog, the Nabami see-till –you-drop pandal visits, the Bijoya-Dashami mishti Mukh and the sad note lingering in our minds thereafter, is what makes puja what it is : Durga puja – bringing generations of bongs and non bongs together from time immemorial !
But exactly what signals the beginning of that time of the year ?
Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Maatrirupena Sansthitah
Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaktirupena Sansthitah
Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaantirupena Sansthitah
Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namo Namah
Yes. Those lines from the Mahalaya, recited by BKB. Somethings really are timeless.
And with these lines playing on our radio sets (only time of the year when we actually use them), its time to chalk out routes and schedule meetings, for the ladies to decide on their dresses and for the gentlemen to ready their swag gear (or vice versa) ….it’s time to rock and roll !!
Before I sign off though, I would like to share some of our memories from the past year….. a few glimpses of the Devi in her myriad forms, given shape to by thousands of unnamed artists, who truly deserve a salute.
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Our other stories on Durga puja :