Upcoming Festival

Durga Puja, Kolkata
1st - 11th October 2016

Kolkata is the capital of India's West Bengal state. Also known as the City of Joy, Kolkata was founded as an East India Company trading post, and was India's capital under the British Raj from 1773-1911. Today the city resonates with grand colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals. It is also home to Mother House, headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, whose tomb is on site.

Kolkata is well known for celebrating Durga Puja, one of the most famous festivals celebrated in West Bengal and particularly in Kolkata, in honor of Goddess Durga during the period of Navaratri. The festival is celebrated for 10 days, however starting from the sixth day till the ninth day the Pandals with grand idols of Goddess Durga are open to visitors. On the tenth day which is also known as Dashami the Visarjan (immersion of the idol in water) with grand celebrations and processions takes place. The year 2016 would witness the Grand festival of Durga Puja in Kolkata from October 1st to October 11th.

As per the Hindu Mythology, Goddess Durga emerged from the collective energy of all Gods as an embodiment of Shakti or divine feminine power, to destroy Demon Mahishasura who was blessed with immortality as he could not be defeated by any man or God. This powerful form of Mother Goddess is highly revered in Kolkata which is why her return is celebrated with much grandeur and ceremonies. The name Durga in Sanskrit means 'the impenetrable'; she exists in a state of self-sufficiency and in ultimate power.

During a visit to Kolkata during Durga Pooja, there are some popular features of the grand celebrations, which should not be missed out at any cost. A week prior to the festival, the city gears up and can be seen wearing a look of eagerness and excitement as it prepares itself to welcome the Goddess home. The idols of Goddess Durga are being painted and made ready except for the eyes. On the occasion of Mahalaya, the Goddess is invited on earth with rituals and so on this day the eyes are drawn on the idols in an auspicious ritual called Chokku Daan. It is believed the Goddess descends to earth at the time of drawing the eyes on the idols. Kumartuli or potter's locality is a famous place in North Kolkata where

On the sixth day of Navaratri the beautifully decorated idols are brought home or into magnificently decorated public pandals. The idol is then decorated with flowers, clothes, jewelry, red vermillion and various sweets are kept in front on the Goddess. The idol of the Goddess is accompanied by the idol of Lord Ganesh. Goddess Durga is considered to be Lord Shiva's wife Parvati's avatar and thus mother of Lord Ganesh and his brother Kartikeya.

Another ritual known as Kola Bou bath happens on the seventh day when early in the morning a small banana plant called Kola Bou is taken to the river to be bathed and dressed in a red bordered sari and carried back in a procession to be placed near the idol of the Goddess. This is followed by ritualistic prayers and puja, which continues for all the remaining days of the festival. A plethora of cultural activities also take place as part of the celebrations. People come together to dance, sing and perform traditional plays.

The tenth day of Durga Puja festival is called Dashami. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Durga gained victory over Mahishasura, Demon and thus restored the balance on the earth. It is also known as Vijayadashami. On this day, Goddess Durga is worshipped and offered many things as she is prepared to leave. Highly enthusiastic devotees gather in large groups to join the procession that carries the idol of Goddess to the Ghats for immersion in water. Women, especially married woman initiate the procession by first applying red sindoor or vermillion powder on the Goddess and then to each other. It is said to be a symbol of marriage and fertility. The immersion of the idol is similar to the immersion of the Ganesha idol during Ganesh Chaturti. Babu Ghat is one of the popular places for immersion located near Eden Garden.

Food is considered at its best during the festival and Kolkata is reputed to be a foodie's paradise. Sure enough, in a festival this grand one is bound to find the most delectable of all Bengali cuisine. Ranging from snacks and sweet dishes to the Durga Puja special themed Bhog meals everything that you savor here is heavenly. All the pandals offer Bhog (offerings made to Goddess Durga) which is later distributed among the devotees and community.

This grand social event of Durga Puja showcases the beautiful culture of the Bengalis in India. The evenings during Kolkata Durga Puja witness the streets packed with thousands of people both locals and tourists alike who come to see the large beautifully decorated idols of Goddess Durga, to offer their prayers, eat at the numerous stalls that pop up in the streets and take part in the grand celebrations to honor the victory of Goddess Durga over evil.

Come and enjoy the festival….