The advent of autumn brings with itself a lot of vibrant colours in our life that once again and re-energizes our mind and soul.
The prime reason for this is nothing but the auspicious festival of Durga Puja knocking at our door.
We, especially the people of Bengal can feel the dramatic change in the environment which is eagerly waiting to welcome Maa Durga after one long year.
The white clouds in the sky, the white “kaash phool” covering the barren fields, the smell of chilli flowers, making of idols with utmost perfection, the hard work of craftsmen and every other tiny change we observe during this time feels our heart with excitement and joy.
This is the most awaited festival for the Bengali people and during this time of year the city of joy, Kolkata, brightens up like a shiny asteroid in the night sky.
No matter how much busy a person is or how far he lives from home, this time of year everyone tries their best to spend these five days with family and friends.
So, Durga Puja is not just a festival for the people of Bengal, it’s a getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life, an opportunity to meet your friends and family and to witness how every single soul drowns in the delicacies of this festival.
Every single person starts making plans at least a month before about where to go, where to eat, what to wear and the top pandals they want to visit.
The puja vibe starts with Mahalaya which significantly marks the arrival of Maa Durga and also the festival of Navratri starts from this very day.
Mahalaya is incomplete without listening to the legendary voice of late Birendra Krishna Bhadra reciting the verses and mantras followed by devotional songs.
It is believed that this day marks the triumph of good over evil and the beginning of her journey to Earth.
After one week of Mahalaya, the real “puja” starts from Sasthi followed by four other days.
While we are busy making our everyday plans there are so many people out there who didn’t get a chance to come home and can only connect through phone calls and video chats.
Few hostellers are still on their way home maybe after one long year just to spend some quality time with the close ones and to drown into the fulfilment and peace of this festival.
Sasthi marks the sixth day of the festival and it begins with the mandatory puja rituals going on for days.
The major celebrations also start from this day where people goes pandal hopping, eating delicious food and taking an innumerable number of selfies.
Every day has its own significance followed by specific rituals, mantras and practices.
But for most of the commoners, it’s enjoying to their fullest and making every second count.
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Sasthi is followed by Saptami that is the seventh day of the festival.
By now everyone has already given in to the madness, the city witnesses this time of year.
The fine artworks in every pandal, the serene beauty of the idols, the happy crowds on the road, the never-ending queues in front of the food stalls and the beats of “dhak” makes our heart skip a beat every time we get dressed up and dive into the madness.
And this madness reaches its zenith nowhere but in Kolkata where the night crowd is also equally excited and energetic.
Every corner of the city feels like having a new life and very food stalls overcrowded with a bunch of people thus brimming with adda and dotted with romance.
The city of Kolkata looks even more beautiful under the night sky, thus twinkling in the plethora of joy and reflecting the flawless beauty of the city beholds.
Saptami is followed by Mahastami where every person starting from a kid to a senior member of our society goes to the “puja mondop “ on the very morning and chants mantras that is known as “Anjali”.
That is mandatory for each Bengali people and this is the when one of the most important rituals takes place that is sandhi puja.
It marks the end of Ashtami and the beginning of Navami.
Kumari Puja also takes place on this day to preach the significance of feminine power.
Women prefer dressing in sarees on the day of Mahastami and men in traditional kurta and pajama.
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Along with the pujas and rituals the fun and frolic activities also goes on with equal pace.
Then comes Navami, the penultimate day of this plethora of glee, festivities and mind blogging delicacies brings with it a joy bitter-sweet.
As the hour to bid adieu to goddess Durga and along with with her the much-awaited festive season of the year, nears, every Indian at large tries to relish the remaining moments of splendour to its extremes.
The day begins with a series of ceremonies, the most decorated and elaborate of them being the “yajna”.
The city burst at its seams as the pandals are swarming with people right through the entire evening appreciating the grandeur that the pure flames of devotion is symbolic in the notion that it consumes all evil surrenders to the all-powerful and all-encompassing Almighty that dwells in all earthly elements.
Cities are bathed in a wide spectrum of vibrancy and merriment that finds expression through pandal hopping and idol worship adds a touch of wonder and awe to the atmosphere.
Thus every year Durga puja, in its magnificence rejuvenates the fatigued Indian souls and breathes a new lease of life into them.
Then finally it’s Vijaya Dashami.
The final moment to bid adieu to Maa Durga.
It is the tenth and the last day of this festival which makes us emotionally vulnerable as we sing goodbye songs.
The day begins with Sindoor Khela where the married women smear sindoor on Maa Durga’s feet to take her blessings and also on her forehead.
This is followed by Chunichi naach( a form of dance with incense burner), then eating bhog and finally taking the idol to the water which marks the end of all the ceremonies.
For a moment our hearts drown in sorrows due to her departure but at the end of the day we cheer ourselves saying “asche bochor abar hobe”….
And again start making plans for Diwali which is the festival of lights.
All Image credits: Nandini Singh
-Written by Annasha(Intern at BoldBlush)
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