Like any other year this year too I was over excited as I eagerly awaited the season’s biggest festival Durga Puja. And this time I was even more excited as it would be my first experience to celebrate Durga Puja in Kolkata. Durga Puja in Kolkata is not just a celebration , its something more, its a sentiment, an emotion, a feeling. The preparations begins months before the time arrives. And why not ! the grand scale to which Durga Puja is celebrated in Kolkata is awestrucking and astounding. Durga Puja is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwin (September-October) and the main rituals includes ten days. But Maa Durga is worshipped with great devotion only during the last five days- Sashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami.
The first celebration of Durga Puja dates back to the late 1500s when it was only celebrated in the big houses Zamindars or the Landlords who belonged to the weathly class of the society, also called as the Bonedis. The Puja were limited to the family members of the Bonedi baris ( House of the Landlords). During the Colonial rule they invited the British officers and it was a grand affair. The pujas were handed over generation after generation and some are as old as 200 or more years than that. Later Durga Puja in Kolkata evolved and the Barowari pujo gave way to the Sarbojonin Puja, the ones which were organised for public so that each and every member of the society can participate without any kind of barier. Committees are created, donations are collected for the festivities.
In the present days these Barowari or Sarbojonin Durga Puja are celebrated in Kolkata and also in other parts of India and the Bonedi Bari Durga Pujas are celebrated only in Kolkata in the houses of the landlords some of which are managed by Trusts or the present generation of the family. Well I shall cover the Bonedi Bari Durga Pujo in another post. The Barowari or Sarbojonin Puja Pandals has a seperate theme on which the whole Puja Pandal is decorated. The Bugdet for these Pujo Pandals are in crores and for months craftsman, artisans, decorates do their best to create them. Each of the Pujo Pandals and also the Maa Durga Idols are unique in their own way. Some keep the traditional style idol whereas some give a themetic look or adopt a contemporary artform. It wouldn’t be wrong to call each of these idols a masterpiece.
Durga Puja in Kolkata is a massive affair that starts from tritiya or third day of Devi Paksha. Devi Paksha starts with Mahalaya, this year it fell on 29th September. There are so many pandals that only five days fall short so generally some of the Pandals are inaugurated on Tritiya or Chouturthi (3rd or 4rth day) so that people can come and visit. The pandal hopping lasts till Navami the Ninth Day and some Idols are left even after Dashami so that they can take part in the Carnival organised by Biswa Bangla, another grand affair in the city of joy. The city doesn’t sleep during these seven days , the streets remains crowded, the pandals are thronged with visitors, the food stalls are full of food lovers. While some love going for Pandal hopping some prefer to sit in their Parar pujo and engage in Adda with their friends and family. Each and every person has their own way of celebrating Durga Puja.
I was no different , I had a long list of plans to enjoy Puja with my friends and also family in Kolkata. I had my elder sister with me after ten long years during Durga Puja. So it was indeed a special time for me. Also my Birthday collided with Saptami Puja and gave me another reason to celebrate.
To begin with this virtual Puja Parikrama I must let you know that post is not a city guide for Durga Puja but my experience of how it feels like to be in Kolkata during Durga Puja. Also this is a compilation post of some of the popular Pujo Pandals and Idols in Kolkata. I arrived in the city on Sasthi (Sixth day) night, I just had four days in hand. Thus it was not possible to visit all the pandals in such a short time. Nevertheless I tried my best to visit some of the popular Puja Pandals. Within these short duration I was also very happy as I and my husband could visit some of the popular Bonedi Barir Pujo along with my friends Amrita and her husband.
On Saptami which was also my Birthday I went out with my girl gang and visited some Puja Pandals in Salt Lake area. Also planning to write all about it. You can also follow me in Instagram to know about the lovely cafes and pubs that I prefer to visit while in Kolkata.
Popular Puja Pandals in Kolkata, 2019
So let’s just begin with a virtual Puja Parikrama of Durga Puja in Kolkata. I have tried to compile all the Puja pandals that I have visited and collected a few pictures from my sister and friend Amrita. Thanks without such lovely people, I don’t know what I would have done!
This pandal located inSalt Late, Sector- II is modelled on a fort which looked so real and the Maa Durga Idol was one of my favourite. This was also the first Pandal I visited in Kolkata.
The Next Pandal also in Salt Lake- II was a recreation of the famous Kedarnath temple.
The Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja was indeed one of the spectacular puja I ever witnessed. Based on the theme of Water Conservation, this Puja was worth visiting amidst thousands of people. They set the Maa Durga idol on a boat along with Maa Laxmi, Saraswati, Lord Karthik and Ganesha. The light effects , the pandal decorations made it one of the best Puja in Kolkata.
The Hatibagan Sarbojonin Durga Puja was a delightful display of lights, intricate work of cut glasses and mirrors and various other decorative items.
The Hari Ghosh Lane Sarbojonin Pujo Pandal was themed on Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar’s famous “Barna Parichay”, the book for kids that teaches to learn the Bengali alphabets.
The Ahiritala Durga Puja Pandal was modelled upon the Ajanta Caves, an intricate work of expert artists. The carvings made on the walls of the Pandal looked so similar that it would be hard to differentiate between the real.
The Baghbazar Sarbojonin Pujo Pandal is indeed a remarkable one as it dates back to the time when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose used to be the President of the Puja Commitee. The Sidur Khela in the Bagbazar Sarbojonin Puja campus is indeed a popular one.Beautiful saree clad young girls, married ladies come from all over Kolkata to participate in the Sidur Khela on the tenth day of Durga Puja- Dashami.
The Ballygunge Cultural Association Pujo Pandal was themed on fusion using Bamboo and canes, etc an excellent work
The Samaj Sebi Sangha Durga Puja Pandal at Lake Road, South Kolkata is indeed a stricking one as they created a very familiar market scene that includes local shops those of a barber, the dhobi shop, cycle repairing shop and other such shops which is otherwise so common that I couldn’t imagine it can be changed into such beautiful art work.
Also Read how Maa Durga Idols are created in this Blog Post-
The 66 Pally Pujo located in South Kolkata was another stricking Pujo Pandal I saw. A huge crowd yet organised and well guided as we rushed inside the pandal. A beautiful work of bamboo and cane, another eco-friendly themed Pujo Pandal worth mentioning.
The Badamtala Ashar Sangha Club Pujo in the same location is indeed a beautiful display of all cane, bamboo and other eco friendly items combined to decorate the Pujo Pandal.
The Shree Bhumi Sporting Club 2019 Pujo Pandal was one of the most crowded Pujo Pandals. Beautiful decorations, and Maa Durga Idols being adorned with original Gold Jewellery made it one of the most popular Puja in Kolkata.
The theme of Kumartuli Park was indeed a stricking one as they showcased the recently launched Chandrayan and also decorated with Aliens. Kumartuli is the place where Durga Idols are created so indeed the theme has to be creative. Kumartuli Park is one of the most popular Pujo pandals due to their innovative ideas and themes.
Even months before Durga Puja the Santosh Mitra Square Sarbojonin Pujo Pandal made round in newspaper headlines and social media. The reason that the Maa Durga idol was made of more than 60kg gold. The Gold Plating all over the idol added to the grandeur. Modelled upon the Sheesh Mahal it is said around 10000 pieces off glass were used to create the Puja Pandal.
The Taala Park Prattay Pujo Pandal is another award winning pandal of Kolkata this year.
The Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha Pujo Pandal was themed on Urbanization. Constructed with fibres, wood, metal, bamboo, this Puja Pandal was unique and vibrant in its own way. The theme speaks about the massive growth of buildings and loose of greenery very soon a day will come when our earth will suffer from lack of oxygen. Thus they diplayed face of Maa Durga with oxygen masks.
On the entrance of The Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra stands a 30 feet book and from where one can see letters and figures flowing out. The main theme is the importance of education. Lots of quotes can be seen beautifully displayed all laying emphasis on importance of education.
The Durga Puja Pandals in Sodepur was indeed stricking. Each and every Pandal was theme based. A pujo Pandal designed as a huge Boat and decorated with baskets full of Fish which I suppose are Hilsa Fish.
Another Pandal in Sodepur was themed on Safety Pins. They used 70 lakh Safety pins to decorate the pandals and not only that even they adorned Goddess Durga and Maa Saraswati, Lakshmi, God Kartik and Ganesha with garlands and crown made of Safety pins. It looked so amazing and the whole light effects and everything was indeed remarkable.
The Agarpara Majahati Club Puja Pandal was themed on under water sea life. There were models of shark, octopus, sea plants, and other fishes. And they gave the waveand water effect using blue coloured lightning.
Some of the nearby Metro -Station Guide
To visit the Pujos of South Kolkata, the nearby Metro Station is Rabindra Sadan, Kalighat, and for the Puja in North Kolkata the nearby metro-stations are Sovabazar Sutanuti and Shyambazar. To reach Dum Dum you can take a metro to DumDum or Belgachia. Click Here – Metro -Guide Map of Kolkata
Thus Pujo in Kolkata is unique and once in a life experience. Though this article can’t be called a proper guide as this was my first time and I was there as a visitor not a local resident. Still I tried my best to compile all the popular Durga Pujo Pandal. Every year these Pandal come up with a unique theme and decorations. Hope you liked reading the article. Would love if you pour in your comments and hit the share button. Thanks.
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