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Celebrate Durga Pooja The Best Way In Kolkata: 8 Must-do Things

Celebrate Durga Pooja The Best Way In Kolkata: 8 Must-do Things

The Durga Puja is the biggest festival of its kind in West Bengal. If you happen to be in the state during the Navratri and are staying at one of the hotels near New Market in Kolkata, you are in for an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.

Here are 8 must-do things during the Durga Puja in Kolkata –

  1. Listen to con Mahalaya – The one thing every Bengali looks forward to is the smell of the sweet fragrance of the kash phool (kans grass), the nip in the air, and the 4 am airing of Chandipath. These bring with them the promise of the Pujas, heralding the onset of Maa Durga’s arrival. The holy verses and songs of the “Mahishasura Mardini” by Birendra Krishna Bhadra and some renowned singers of Bengal, collectively called the Chandipath, is aired on almost all radio stations (and recently in some Bengali television stations as well).
  2. Get the wardrobe ready – The Durga Puja is the time when everyone in Kolkata (and the rest of West Bengal) dons their best clothes. Shopping for the puja days start about a month in advance and the latest fashion trends are released around this time. Children and adults alike decide on their clothing for each day and shop for the matching accessories too. The run-up to the Puja is also the time for gifting in Kolkata and clothes are inevitably the most popular gifts. This is also a time for the best discounts.
  3. Visit Kumartuli – To understand the rich culture and legacy of Durga Puja in Bengal, it is important to visit Kumartuli – a small rural town – a short distance from the city of Kolkata. Here live the artisans who create the idols of Ma Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartick, and Ganesh using traditional methods. The idols can be custom made or made to traditional standards. Watching the artisans fashion out these idols from straw and clay and painting and decorating them can be a fascinating experience. If you are staying at one of the hotels in Kolkata near the airport, Kumartuli is only a short drive.
  4. Go pandal hopping – The entire city is decked up in lights and decorations and hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets hoping to visit the best pandals in town. Pandal hopping is often an all-night affair because this is the best time to admire the lighting of the puja pandals. Look out for the best and special pandals list released by popular media houses each year. These must feature on your list of pandals to visit. The metro services are on all night on puja days.
  5. Learn the dhunuchi nach – One of the best experiences of the Durga Puja in Kolkata is the Dhunuchi Nach – the traditional dance that Bengali men and women perform to honour the divine mother. The dhunuchi is a smouldering incense burner and the dancer dances with one or two of these. The quick movements, the fiery incense, the beats of the traditional drummers, and the devotion of the onlookers sets the tone for the puja celebrations in the city.
  6. Feast on the Pujo bhog – Durga Puja is a time for feasting in the city. Thousands of makeshift eateries come up across the city and the restaurants come up with a special menu that is a gourmet’s delight. Most puja pandals host the traditional bhog with khichdi, potato-cauliflower gravy, fried aubergines, kheer, and sweet chutney. Add to this the dozens of delicious sweets that Kolkata’s confectioners rustle up and you have an experience to last a lifetime.
  7. Participate in Sindur Khela – The Sindhr Khela is a tradition that goes back many centuries. On the final day of the puja, the Vijaydasami day, married women from across the state apply vermilion (sindur) on the idol of the Goddess and on each other. They also feed each other sweets in a wonderful celebration. It is a beautiful game and a tradition-rich in symbolism.
  8. Head out for the immersion – The immersion or the visarjan of the Durga idol on the Dashami in the Ganges is a grand occasion. The immersion processions of the various pandals from across town make their way with drums and dances. Participating in the visarjan is an exhilarating experience in itself.

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