Godess Durga at a community puja pandal in Kolkata on the occassion of ‘Maha Sasthi’, Oct. 19. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)


 

West Bengal soaked in festive spirit on the occasion of ‘Mahasaptami,’ which marks the beginning of the worship of Goddess Durga during her four-day sojourn to her maternal abode. Here is a special feature on Durga Puja in Kolkata.


Crowd of devotees at Badamtala Ashar Sangha on the occasion of Mahasaptmi in Kolkata, Oct. 20. (Press Trust of India)

Crowd of devotees at Badamtala Ashar Sangha on the occasion of Mahasaptmi in Kolkata, Oct. 20. (Press Trust of India)

The day started early with the taking out of banana plantains – ‘Nabapatrika’ (symbolising Lord Ganesha’s wife) for a ritual dip at nearest water bodies with most preferring the River Ganges, as priests made arrangements for the day’s worship of the Goddess and her celestial family.

A view of goddess Durga Idol and  puja pandals made of glass in Kolkata, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

A view of goddess Durga Idol and puja pandals made of glass in Kolkata, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

A Durga Puja pandal made on the theme of Indian traditional 'Chhau Art' during "Maha Panchami" of Durga Puja at Ajayo Sanhati in South Kolkata, Oct. 18. (Press Trust of India)

A Durga Puja pandal made on the theme of Indian traditional ‘Chhau Art’ during “Maha Panchami” of Durga Puja at Ajayo Sanhati in South Kolkata, Oct. 18. (Press Trust of India)

After the morning rituals, worshippers offered ‘Pushpanjali’ (floral libations) to the Goddess amid chanting of mantras (hymns) later in the day.

Adding to the festive spirit, many community puja organizers hosted their neighborhood to lunch featuring a variety of delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.

People visiting Durga Puja pandal themed as "Nepal earthquake and rescue by Indian Army," in Kolkata, Oct. 19. (Press Trust of India)

People visiting Durga Puja pandal themed as “Nepal earthquake and rescue by Indian Army,” in Kolkata, Oct. 19. (Press Trust of India)

Tallest idol of Goddess Durga made of fiber glass gets ready for worship at Deshapriya Park Sarbojanin, in Kolkata, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

Tallest idol of Goddess Durga made of fiber glass gets ready for worship at Deshapriya Park Sarbojanin, in Kolkata, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

One or two spells of shower did take place in some parts of the city in the forenoon, but that could not play spoilsport for the revelers who ventured out early in the day to hang around the better-known community puja pandals.

People visiting a community Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata, Oct. 19. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

People visiting a community Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata, Oct. 19. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Viewing of the world's tallest Durga idol being closed for visitors at Deshapriya Park in South Kolkata, Oct. 19, following a mini-stampede the previous evening. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Viewing of the world’s tallest Durga idol being closed for visitors at Deshapriya Park in South Kolkata, Oct. 19, following a mini-stampede the previous evening. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Pandal-hoppers visited the big draw pandals in thousands and enjoyed the illumination and feasted their eyes on the decor, as many said they would have loved to see the world’s tallest Goddess Durga idol at Deshapriyo Park, which was closed for visitors to prevent any accident following massive crowd surge that had closed down traffic for hours and caused injury to some.

Priest offering puja to goddess Durga at a community puja pandal in Kolkata. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Priest offering puja to goddess Durga at a community puja pandal in Kolkata. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Durga Puja pandal in Howrah district of West Bengal. (Press Trust of India)

Durga Puja pandal in Howrah district of West Bengal. (Press Trust of India)

Kolkata Police personnel, along with those of the city civic police and other volunteers were deployed in strength near the big community pujas and busy intersections to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

A community Durga Puja pandal built with drums in Kolkata, Oct. 20. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

A community Durga Puja pandal built with drums in Kolkata, Oct. 20. (Swapan Mahapatra | PTI)

Artists construct a Durga Puja pandal resembling Harry Potter's school of magic ahead of Durga Puja festival in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

Artists construct a Durga Puja pandal resembling Harry Potter’s school of magic ahead of Durga Puja festival in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Oct. 16. (Press Trust of India)

Business was brisk, as food vendors served the appetite of this big city that was all out on the roads on their ritualistic visits to the pandals in all corners of Kolkata.