Every region of India has its own festivals and Durga Puja is one of the festivals that is celebrated with great fervour in Kolkata, West Bengal. Indian festivals have always been an extravagant affair. Every festival here is celebrated with great zest. During Durga Puja, the state of West Bengal comes alive in all its grandeur. People from all regions come together to celebrate this festival. It is about huge idols of Goddess Durga, flashy pandals, exchanging gifts, authentic Bengali food, and spending time with loved ones.
If you want to experience Durga Puja, you must visit Kolkatta around October-November after checking the exact pooja dates of this 5-day festival. Most Bengalis take time off from work to celebrate Durga Puja. Even schools are closed here for this festivity. It is one of the biggest festivals in the Eastern part of India. This article provides a glimpse of what you will get to see and experience if you visit Kolkatta during Durga Puja.
Pandals in Durga Puja have always been the centre of attraction due to their magnificent structures and commendable artwork. Every year, based on several (yet unique) themes, these picturesque temporary structures are designed in the most unique ways allowing you to get a hint of Bengali tradition. With their exceptional skills, artisans create marvellous artworks that stun the onlookers. The captivating decoration of these pandals features contemporary themes to traditional ones. These pandals justify why Durga Puja is a profligate affair in Kolkata!
A traditional Zamindari Style puja is organised by the Bonedi Families (once the landowners of Kolkata) at their elite private mansions. It is considered one of the best traditional pujas, covering Chhatubabu Latubabur Puja, Sovabajar Rajbari and Rani Rashmoni Bari Chandra Bari, etc. Various state tourism buses are also available for tourists and locals to witness these pujas in just one day. These fervent pujas are truly an enchanting affair which allows the devotees to witness them in classic ways.
To relish the authentic flavours of lip-smacking Bengali cuisine, Durga Puja is the best time to visit Kolkata. From street food to special Bengali dishes and local cuisines, you can find everything you wish to relish on your plate. Various restaurants across the city serve special Durga puja food, which is a must-try for every food-lover. Even in pandals, ‘bhog’ is offered to devotees, which is a not-to-be-missed deal. The famous Bengali desserts like Misti Doi, Sondesh and Roshgulla sweeten the celebrations across the city.
A beautiful gathering of family and friends is another highlight of the Durga Puja fervour. Festivals bring people and families closer. Likewise, during Durga Puja, Bengalis spend time with their near and dear ones through long adda sessions at various Puja Mandaps. These sessions allow them to take a break from their hectic schedules, enjoy the company of their loved ones and relive their childhood memories. With food, gossiping, family and friends, can any celebration get better than this?
On the last day of Durga Puja, the idol is immersed in the river. This day is celebrated as Vijaya Dashmi and the married women across Kolkata smear ‘sindoor’ on each other. To witness this grand celebration, the state tourism runs special boats. Bengalis greet each other with sweets on this day and the women perform Matri Baran after the immersion of Durga Idol in the evening. This glorious affair lasting four days comes to an end with this, but the enriching experience of this festivity stays in hearts forever.
Visiting the puja pandals (especially during the night) is a must for every Durga Puja lover. A steady rise in these puja pandals has been observed from the last few years making it difficult to visit each of them. The sponsors have started organising several awards for the best pandals so that the viewers can cover award-winning ones. Bus tours are organised for tourists to visit the best pandals.
In 2017, nearly 400 art students got together to create a beautiful 1-kilometre ‘Alpona’ along the Lake Road. This was one of the greatest art installations which strengthen the spirit of this auspicious occasion. This record-making painting ruled the social media for many days. Such is the spirit of Durga Puja.
The whole town turns bright and beautiful especially at night during this festival. An illusionary magic is created using strings of bulbs, which was known as ‘Chandannagorer lighting’ in the earlier days. An indigenous technology is used by electricians for such exceptional artwork.
Egg rolls, chowmien and momos are the most relished delicacies in Kolkata, which one can find around every corner. The momos here are quite distinct from its Tibetan version and are worth trying. Apart from this, you can relish delicious dosas and idlis too. Puchkas, bhelpuri, chats, and jhalmuri are the other street foods of Kolkatta, which everyone should definitely try. Puckhas are the Kolkata-version of pani-puri. New market and Park Street are the two famous places in Kolkata, which are always crowded with food lovers. If you are out to witness the artistic pandals, you will find many vendors near pandals selling your favourite street food.
Shops come up with all kinds of offers during this festival time. Be it malls or local markets, all are decorated to welcome people to shop. There are shopping extravaganzas and lucky draws to woo customers. People buy new clothes, sarees, jewellery, home decoration products, toys and utensils. Even the street shops are loaded with various types of items.
Commuting to Kolkata to attend this glorious affair is not a big deal. In fact, people come from different states to become a part of this festival. This is the most awaited time of the year when not just Bengalis working outside the city wait to return, but tourists from various cities also come to enjoy the glory of this festival. If you are from Mumbai, plenty of Mumbai to Kolkata flights are available during this festival. To book your flights, you can search online.
Durga Puja is the time when not just cities across West Bengal but also other cities of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam and Tripura witness outstanding enthusiasm. From devotees to not-so-religious people, everyone loves to venture out in the streets of Kolkata to enjoy at this time of the year.