When it’s time to for Durga Puja holidays, you get so excited to visit places around India. Many of us think of visiting Kolkata, but every time you go there you end up standing in the queue for hours to see one idol and feel like you have not seen the city or felt the joy of the city or missed something more important by just getting tired from all that walking.
Also, if this is the first time of your visit to the ‘City Of Joy’ and want to enjoy the city and not just stand in queue then here are some tips that can help you enjoy the Kolkatas Durga Puja and see the other side of the city’s fulfilling and entertaining life. Of course you need to visit the city a week before the actual Puja date to enjoy the whole weeks of Durga Puja, but there are other ways to enjoy if you don’t have time.
Tips On How To Enjoying Puja In Kolkata
See the making of Durga Idols
Seeing this Beautifully handcrafted idols of Durga in the pandals are stunning. But seeing them, making is even more appreciating and mesmerizing. You will understand the effort that they put in to make them. Fortunately, you don’t have to visit different places to see that. You can find them crafting in one area, called Kumartuli which is in North Kolkata. Literally the name also means ‘Potter’s Locality’. As per the name suggests the area is also settled by many groups of potters. There are hundreds of potter families who live there. If you go to the area on the occasion of ‘Mahalaya’, then you will be able to see the ‘Chokkhu daan’, that is, the eyes were drawn onto the statues as an auspicious ritual.
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Once these Durga idols are made they are kept in pandals as displays, to which many people come to see or visit. These pandals have unique themes, which makes it a mesmerizing and amazing part to look at. This part of going to different pandals is referred as “Pandal Hopping”. There are more than thousands of pandals in Kolkata, that it is impossible to visit in a fraction and need a little bit of strategic planning as they were spread out all over the city. You can find the most well known ones in the North and South Kolkata. The most popular and important time to visit pandals is mostly in the night, because they are amazingly lit up or if you visit during the day, then you can avoid much crowd.
See the Kola Bou ‘Snan’ or Bath
Officially Durga Puja gets its way mostly early in the morning of Saptami, which is the seventh day of Navaratri. A ritual is performed on this day called “Kola Bou Snan”, that is basically, bathing of small Banana Tree adorned as a bride. These rituals are performed to infuse the energy of the goddess to the idols, and is installed on the podium across the city. This ritual is accompanied by drummers and chanting of mantras by a priest. The Kola Bou is bathed and purified in the river, then it is been dressed up in a traditional Bengali sari and then being carried in the procession where it is being placed alongside Lord Ganesha, who is also a son of Goddess Durga. As they consider Lord Ganesh to be Kola Bou’s Husband. The best place to see the ritual performing is the ghats of Bagbazar and Ahiritola.
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Eat the local delicacies!
Durga Puja is also one of the best and the best time to consume Kolkata’s famous Bengali cuisine. The festival is never complete without food. You will find a wide array of different cuisines everywhere. Like on the streets, restaurants, and also at the pandals. Pandal hopping gets very tiring, so eating in between hopping is a must. The food that is served to visitors are called ‘bhog’, that is, offering of god which are being distributed. It basically consists of mixed vegetable curry, a fried item, a sweet dish, and a chutney. Bengali restaurants in Kolkata, sometimes also serves a menu packed full of authentic delicacies, in both buffet as well as a la carte.
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The Immersion of Durga
The last day of Durga Puja, which is also known as Dashami or Dussehra, the local married women will come and play ‘Sindoor Khela’, that is, playing with red sindoor powder with the Goddess Durga as well as with each other. In the evening, the Durga idols are immersed in the water and one of the most popular immersion points are BabuGhat, which is centrally located near Eden Garden Stadium. You can catch this action at any ghat along the river. If you want an excellent view, then the best way is to see it by the boat. The WBTDC (West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation) also offers a special immersion boat cruises down the river Ganga.
Have an enjoying vacation!
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By - Triptika Basu