Pujo Pandal Pandemonium

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Pandal hopping in Durga Puja
Pandal hopping in Durga Puja

When you can hear the dhak in the distance and the smell of dhuno (a natural Indian frankincense) is in the air, you know that Kolkata’s favourite festival  has arrived!  

There are many fascinating things about Durga Puja but my favourite are the pandals (and also the holidays!) It amazes me how so many pandals crop up in just a few months, and that too each with its unique theme and decor. The tiniest of spaces seem to magically expand to make place for the pandals. 

Once the pandals open, throngs of people flock to see them. The grandeur and creativity never fails to leave us in awe. However, it is quite a task to navigate through the sometimes chaotic pandals without getting lost. There is a hustle and bustle of people almost around the clock and the pandemonium has to be seen to be believed! At peak times, the street looks like a sparkling palette of colours with people dressed in their festive best. Some people visit the pandals at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds. In the evening when the pandals are lit up, that’s when you see swarms of people out ‘pandal hopping’, a unique phrase specially created by the people of Kolkata. The roads leading to the pandals are filled with hawkers selling food, toys and handicrafts.

There are many fascinating things about Durga Puja

Whenever I visit pandals I always notice the beautiful eyes of Durga as she stands with her entourage of Ganesh, Lakshmi, Kartik and Saraswati who each stand with their own little entourage of vaahans (the animals on which Hindu gods are seated). Many say that during this festival is when Kolkata truly comes alive as the city is decked up in its finery. It is no wonder that UNESCO has conferred the title of Intangible Cultural Heritage onto the Durga Pujas in Bengal.
Durga Puja is truly a melting pot of many ages, cultures, religions and nationalities.

Vaani Tantia is a student of Word Munchers, a Kolkata-based creative writing platform.

Images courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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