Historically, Durga puja in Bengal was first started around the 16th century. It took place mostly in the houses and palaces of the rich local landlords and Rajas. The commoners had to remain satisfied by visiting these houses only to have a mere glimpse of the festivities. The puja gained great prominence during the British Raj period in its provinces of Bengal and Assam. It is also believed that the worship of the warrior goddess and her darker and more violent version “Kaali” became more frequent in the Bengal region during and after the Muslim invasion in the medieval era. It was in the mid-eighteenth as legend has it that, a group of friends started organizing the puja by pooling in funds. This system of organizing the festival came to be known as “BaroYaari” (12 friends’) Puja. Goes without saying that the number of organizers and contributors soon exceeded 12 and at present, the entire populace takes part in numerous such community pujas by generously contributing money and most importantly their time, energy, dedication, and efforts to plan and organize each such puja and make it stand out of the rest.
The popularity of the festival
Of late even corporates have entered the fray given the extreme popularity of the festival. Kolkata Durga puja is the biggest, most flamboyant and widely celebrated festival of West Bengal. Much like the Carnival of Rio De Janerio, Brazil or the Ganesh Chaturdashi of Maharashtra, 1000s of people are involved in the celebrations let alone the unending crowd frenzy.
The main puja starts from the sixth day or Shashti and ends on the 10th day of Dashami or Durgadasami with the immersion of the idols into the holy river of Ganga or any local water body which is a believe symbolic to send ma Durga back to the holy cosmos and to her husband’s house in Kailash. The idols initially made of biodegradable substances such as hay, clay, and bamboo is not so hazardous to the environment. But the use of cheap paints and chemicals to quickly dry the idols, pose a threat to the environment of heavy metal pollution. To control this, free biodegradable and non-hazardous paints are distributed among the idol makers by government authorities.
Durga Puja in India
Today’s Durga puja is not only restricted to Kolkata, West Bengal and its adjoining areas of Assam, Bihar, and Odisha. Durga pujas can be found happening in as far as the American and European countries. The Delhi Durga pujas of cashmere gate and Chittaranjan Park are quite famous and was started as early as the 1910s. Durga puja in Kolkata are of several types—there are theme based pandal pujas, traditional pujas happening for more than 100s of years in the so-called “Bonedibaris” of Kolkata, and there are pujas seen to be performed by small comities in a locality or apartments. Some the old traditional pujas of Kolkata include the Shobhabazar rajbari puja, daw bari puja, Chhatubabu and latubabu’sbarir puja, Pathurighatabarir puja, the Durga puja of Rani Rashmoni;s house, Chandra barir puja, thantania Dutta barir puja among several others. Some of the famous pandal pujas are witnessed in northern parts of Kolkata in Baghbazar, Belgachia, Md ali park puja, Lake town adhibashibrindo, Sreebhumi sports club, college square puja, while the ones in south are Ekdaliah evergreen, Behala, Naktala, Kasba, 23 Pally Deshapriya park puja and the list goes on… not only do the Bengalis but people of all communities take part in puja parikrama. It involves pandal hopping, day as well as night plans, taking part in local programs with an extravagant display of art and culture through music, artwork, dance, and dance dramas. The ecstasy, the madness, the flamboyance, and the craze surrounding this festival of Durga puja, the biggest annual festival of the Bengalis, knows no bounds….
Call 8902495917 for more information about Durga Puja .