Durga Puja in Kolkata is Hinduism’s most important event, and it is held every year in September or October, also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava. It is a festival that celebrates how the goddess Durga beat Mahishasura, who was the leader of the demons. Many people celebrate Durga Puja in Kolkata, as well as in other parts of India and the Bengali diaspora. This festival is very famous in the Indian states of Bengal, Assam, and Tripura, as well as in Bangladesh, which is close by.
What is Durga Puja
Durgotsava is usually held for ten days in the month of Ashvina, which is between September and October. The seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar is known as Aipassi on the solar calendar, and it is called Aswayuja on the solar national civil calendar.
Small businesses use unfired clay from the Ganga River to make figures of Durga and her family in the months leading up to the holiday. Then, on the first day of Mahalaya, the worship of the goddess starts. When the eyes of the god or goddess are drawn on the clay models, the goddess comes to life. On the tenth day, the figures are put in the river where the clay came from.
When is Durga Puja
On the first day of Durga Puja, which is called Mahalaya, the goddess is said to have arrived. On the sixth day of “Debi Pakksha,” “Sasthi,” the prayers and parties began. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, “Devi Paksha” happens during the “Aswin” months of September and October, when the moon is getting bigger. Clay figures of the goddess Durga riding a lion and fighting the demon king Mahishasura are set up at many “Durga Puja Pandals,” which are beautifully decorated bamboo buildings, galleries, and churches.
Over the next few days, the Durga Goddess will be celebrated in her different forms as Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati. Because of this, the holiday has come to mean “coming home” or a seasonally appropriate return to one’s roots. People think that Durga Puja is the best example of a holy and artistic show that is open to the public. Artists and designers can also work well together there. Large-scale artworks, tents, traditional Bengali music, and goddess worship are all present in the cities during the event.
As thousands of people walk around and look at the artworks, class, faith, and race become less important. The parties end on Vijayadashami, the tenth day after the win. It is done while loud cheers and drumbeats play in the background. Large groups of people carry holy symbols to rivers and lakes, where they are immersed. This tradition is a way to show that the goddess Durga and her husband Shiva are going back to their home in the Himalayas.
Durga Puja at Kolkata
Durga Puja is a Hindu festival in Kolkata that honors Durga, who is Lord Shiva’s wife and the one who kills bad forces and protects and frees her lovers. Durga is generally shown riding a lion and having ten arms. Each arm holds something that shows one of her good traits.
Durga Puja lasts for more than a week in Bengal and other parts of eastern India. During that time, it takes over both family and public life and keeps people busy. Large amounts of time and money are spent planning and putting on the event, which in recent years has included strong neighborhood cooperation and rich corporate funding.
Making statues of Durga and her family is the most important part of the celebrations. The goddess can stay in these figures for a short time, and during the holiday, their show becomes a place of worship and love. When the goddess departs and the water in the pond or river destroys the sculptures, the event is over.
Some people think that the main beat of Hindu mythology is this pattern of creation, celebration, and death. This portfolio was made over a few weeks. It started in the workshops of Kumartuli Space in north Kolkata, where groups of potters make the symbols. The clay figures are then taken to different places in the city, where they are displayed on stages and in small buildings called “pandals.”
Durga Puja Pandals
Building these Durga Puja pandals is a big job in and of itself, and areas and groups try to outdo each other in terms of creativity and detail in these temporary structures. People in Kolkata spend a big part of the holiday “Pandal hopping,” or going from one to the next to see as many as they can. There may be hundreds or even thousands of them set up around the city and its surroundings.
Hindu priests added to the artworks at the building and at other times during the time period, and lovers looked for gifts. A lot of “pandal hopping” happens at night, and experts in the area have to do odd things to keep the swarms under control. Around the pandals, there are short presentations of side shows and food halls. This is a big deal for the city of Kolkata.
At the end of the event, the married women put vermilion on the symbols and on each other to get ready to say goodbye to Goddess Durga. At the end, all of the marks from the pandals around the city are moved to the ghats along the river. These beautiful things were thrown into the water after the goddess flew away in the story.
Because people are worried about how bad this cycle could be for the environment, cranes and groups are ready to quickly pull the symbols out of the water and put them on dripping stacks so they can be taken away. A person who is not Hindu might see the whole wonderful conversation and its sad finish as a big public relations stunt. But from a Hindu point of view, it is a big reminder every year of how short life is and how amazing this world is.
Durga Puja Festival
During Durga Puja, the most important goddess to worship is Durga. Other important Hindu gods, like “goddess Lakshmi,” the goddess of wealth and success, “goddess Saraswati,” the goddess of knowledge and music, “goddess Ganesha,” the lord of good starts, and “goddess Kartikeya,” the divine force of war, are also on her stage and in her celebrations. The last two are thought to be “Parvati’s” or Durga’s children.
As Durga’s husband, the Hindu god Shiva is also honored during this festival. The first day of the Durgotsav festival starts with Mahalaya, which represents Durga’s fight against evil. On the sixth day, or Sasthi, the goddess is asked to come. Happy Durga Puja and its celebrations start in temples and pandals that are richly decorated and have room for the artworks.
On the next two days, people pray to Lakshmi and Saraswati. On the 10th day of Vijaya Dashami, the celebration comes to an end. The “Shakta” Hindu people group starts a parade with music and songs, carrying the colorful mud sculptures to a river or sea and soaking them as a way to say goodbye and send her back to the heavens and Mount Kailash. Mount Kailash is a hill that is 6,638 meters high. It is in the Kailash Range, which is part of the Transhimalaya and is in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
Hindus have been doing this for a long time, but no one knows when or how it began. Original copies of the rules for Durga Puja from the fourteenth century are still around, and records that can be checked show that rulers and rich families have been backing large public celebrations of Durga Puja since at least the sixteenth century.
During the British Raj, more people went to Bengal and Assam to enjoy Durga Puja. Durga Puja is a ten-day festival, with the last five days being the most exciting. It happens every year in places like West Bengal and Tripura, where it is very famous. Everywhere in the modern world, Durga Puja was just as much a social event as it was a religious one.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Durga Puja festival in Kolkata is on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural assets from 2021 onward. Durga Puja Pandals were made for the annual Durga Puja event, which is called Durgotsava in Bengali. It is the biggest and most extravagant party of the year in Kolkata, India’s third-largest city.
UNESCO says very clearly that how a culture shows itself is not the most important part of its intangible cultural property. Instead, what is passed down from one family to the next is a wealth of information and skills. Sharing knowledge is important for minorities and the majority of a state’s population’s social and economic well-being. It is just as important for both new and old countries.
Part of our cultural history is not just buildings and collections of things. Traditions or ways of life that we got from our ancestors and passed on to our children and grandchildren are also included. Some examples are oral customs, performing arts, social activities, routines, holidays, information, and practices. All of these have to do with nature and the world, as well as the knowledge and skills of ancient artisans.