“Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shakti – rupena samsthita, Namas tasyai, Namas tasyai, Namas tasyai namo namah.”
( Translation : Durga is omnipresent as the embodiment of power, intelligence, peace, wealth, morality … )
About: Durga Puja (Festival of Goddess Durga), is one of the biggest festival of India, definitely the biggest festival of the Bengalees celebrated not only in Kolkata,India but also in all other parts of India too. It is celebrated even in US, Germany, Netherlands and many other countries by the Bengalees. It is a ritual of 5 days. Each day is called Sashti, Saptami, Ashtami, Nabami and Dashami (In chronological order).
Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon “Mahisasura”. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil. Durga puja mood starts off with the “Mahisasurmardini” – a two-hour radio programme that has been popular with the community since the 1950s. Bengalis traditionally wake up at 4 in the morning on “Mahalaya” (7 days prior to puja) day to listen to the enchanting voice of the late “Birendra Krishna Bhadra”.
It is a popular belief that Devi arrives and departs in some form of transportation which predicts the lives of people for the coming year. There are various forms like Palki, Nouka (Boat), Ashwa(Horse), Gaj (Elephant),etc. each having its own significance. For example the departure by horse signifies devastation. Coming by boat signifies rain. Believe it or not, weather actually reacts based on the prediction done years back. India faced Tsunami when Maa Durga came by boat.
Background: Durga Puja is most famous in Kolkata, India. The pandals (temporary fabricated structure) could be as tall as 5 storeyed building. Inside the pandal, idol of Maa Durga is placed and worshipped for 5 days. Huge crowd of all ages gather during this time to see Maa Durga. Pandals are
created based on many innovative ideas and themes. Some are made with biscuit, pencils, cups, etc. Some high budget puja committee even put gold crown on huge structure of Maa Durga.
My 2014 Durga Puja Celebration: I couldn’t manage to visit my hometown Kolkata, India this year as I work in another city Bangalore, India. So I have decided to explore Durga Puja in Bangalore only. I prepared a list of Durga Puja held in Bangalore and I got astonished seeing a huge list of pujas held in Bangalore.
Puja mood started on the onset of “Mahisasurmardini”. Heart and mind started to flutter. On Ashtami, I and 3 friends of mine Niloy, Chandan and Nisha Goel went out for pandal hopping. We offered Ashtami Anjali (Offering to god and chanting hymns) early in the morning. Then we went out for pandal hopping. We started our journey from Hebbal. Then we visited the puja pandal in K R Puram. A cultural event was happening there with some kids dancing all around. Puja and seeing children dancing with the tune definitely added an extra charm. Everything was fine till here. Still we were missing the huge gathering of the crowd. We didn’t had to wait too long for this. We then visited the puja held in BTM Layout. The puja was organized in a big open ground covered with shades. The pandit ( scholar who performs the puja) was involved in puja, whereas the beautiful young crowd busy in their own world discussing many things. Some guys were even busy in impressing girls. All were looking good in traditional dresses. Girls were looking beautiful with “saree” and ornaments, whereas the boys are in “Panjabi”. We were also lucky to get bhog (food offered to all the visitors from the puja committee) there.
From there we visited puja at J P Nagar then we moved to our next destination, i.e. Assam Society of Bangalore in “Murugeshpalya”. Maa Durga there has divine charm. Having a feeling that we are in a holy place. The entire decoration of the pandal was in white, even Maa Durga is dressed with white saree. It was decorated beautifully. Apart from pandal hopping, food is also prime to add spice to all the excitements. We tickled our taste buds with freshly prepared Momos.
Then we moved to Indiranagar Puja. When we reached Indiranagar, it’s already evening. Lighting is the major attraction there. The goddess is nicely lighted with blue and white lights. Felt like, goddess is busy in meditation in The Himalayas. This puja was also organized in a big open ground with lots of food stalls. We decided to eat food of Bengali cuisine as it is rare in Bangalore. So we ordered “Luchi”,” Alur-dam” and sweets . Food was too tasty. These foods are considered to be renowned for the Bongs (Bengalees).
Later, we visited Koramangala. 2 pujas were happening in a short distance. As reached Koramangala, we found the perfect ambience. A huge crowd moving in a queue to get a glimpse of Maa Durga. Number of security guards busy in managing the crowd. Some are busy eating food from the food stalls around the pandal. It was a perfect festive image. In one of the pandal, a live solo performance was going on. We just managed to hear the song and just a glimpse of the celebrity as the place was so heavily crowded. Here, we actually felt like we are not away from home. We are used to seeing this sort of crowd during Durga Puja in Kolkata.
It was almost the end of the day at 9.30 at night. Still we have one more pandal to visit based on the plan I created. We were bit tired too after pandal hopping since morning. We took an auto to reach our final pandal destination at Ulsoor. As autos in Bangalore don’t allow more than 3 people together. So, we had to pay the auto driver little extra to take all four of us together. And I had to sit on a friend’s lap the entire journey.
Once reached at the Puja pandal at Ulsoor, got shocked seeing huge crowd even at night. Not to mention, ambience was rocking. This puja is the most renowned puja of Bangalore and happening since 1980’s or even earlier. Puja is organized in the huge RBANMS ground. All were busy in taking photos. No one in the crowd wants to lose an opportunity to capture moments like this. After all these are moments which can be cherished throughout…There were stalls of all kind. Book stalls, Stall for dresses, etc. There were more than 50 food stalls too offering authentic Bengali food like Hilsa fish, tiger prawn, rolls, biryani, etc. I bought 2 pieces of cooked Hilsa fish for Rs. 600. After having a great time, we returned home by auto.
Next day is Navami. Didn’t go out anywhere. Segregated best photos out of 1000’s of photos taken during the event and posted in the social networking site. The day after Navami is Dashami. This is the day when Maa Durga departs. This is the day of mixed emotions. This is the day to get back to the normal life again. All are sad as this is the last day of the puja. Aswellas people are equally happy because they had a wonderful 5 days of celebration.
In Dashami, all girls come in traditional red & white saree and offer sweets and wish goddess the journey back in a happy note with betel leaf. Married women involve themselves with “Sindur-khela” ( putting vermillion powder on each other’s face) and finally all dance in a nice synchronized way with the beat of “Dhaak” (Musical instrument). Some are really good with Dhunachi-naach (dance holding incense burner) which definitely requires skill.
I visited the pandal on time to capture every moment of this ritual. After Sindur-khela and synchronized dance and dhunachi-dance, it’s time to say adieu to Maa Durga. Huge idol of Maa Durga is lifted in a truck with the help of many people and taken to a river nearby. In Kolkata, the idol is generally immersed in the holy water of The Ganges. This is the day when all take blessings from their elders saying “Subho Bijoya” .
Finally, Maa Durga was immersed in the river and all screamed together – “Asche Bochor Abar Hobe” (Translation – It will happen once again next year).