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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.