Wednesday, October 04, 2006

During the Pujas

There's nothing that compares to Kolkata during the Pujas. The whole city changes it's character, if only for the 4 days of the Puja. There's nothing to prepare you for the explosion of humanity at this time, when people throng the streets, the pavements, the buses, the metro and not to forget, the pandals.
I sometimes wonder where so many people go during the rest of the year. The sheer multitudes of people who can be seen in the city during this time simply disappear after the Pujas end. It's like the green insects who appear only for the time between the Durga and Kali Pujas - they simply vanish to reappear only the next festive season.
The Pujas have been a wonderful experience for me this year...I managed to fully enjoy it for the first time. Last year I wasn't in town around this time. I wouldn't let this opportunity slip.
I loved the pandals that had been beautifully constructed for the Pujas. 66 Pally, near Kalighat temple, was my personal favourite for the mindblowing mandap and pratima that had been created. Although placed in a very small lane, it really shone through in it's brilliant sight. Ballygunge Cultural and Samajsebi were great as ever, but a nearby pandal made of Horlicks bottles was excellent! Mudiali was pretty good, and Shibmandir did really well as it always does. Bosepukur Sitala Mandir was also excellently created.
The pujas are an expensive affair for every Bong, and I was no different. Despite having saved money on transportation by riding buses, I still managed to spend a whole lot on food, coke and the rides at Deshapriya Park, but it was well worth it. Hanging out with friends is a lot better during this time, because the festive spirit pervades the air.
It all ended on Dashami, with people out for one last look at the pandals and the idols. I was on the roadside watching the huge immersion processions go by, with people indulging in unbridled revelry. The dhaks, the kurkuris, the bands and the people dancing to their beat all made for a fantastic spectacle.
Durga Puja over, it was back to the daily grind for most of Kolkata, as the city slipped back into it's normal sober, philosophical air.


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