Kolkata, Durga Puja and I

Kolkata, my relationship with the city was like that of an arranged marriage. A relationship that evolves with daily requirements and even before you realise, it matures to a level where the individuals become inseparable unless destiny has any other plan.

After spending some years in the city and hating every bit of it, like its unbearable mugginess where the sweat-stains on your clothes become a permanent feature even if you are out under the sun for a few minutes, and its ever crowded streets where walking on the pavement without bumping into strangers is a challenge in itself, I was able to comprehend my love for the city only after I left it.

Today when somebody asks me the things I remember about the city, he should be ready with all his time to listen. The eating joints and restaurants of Park Street to the evening highs of Tangra. High rises of Salt Lake to highly congested Bada Bazar. Frustrated people in the metro trains or buses to over enthusiastic lot discussing football, cricket, or the genetically favourite topic Politics.
It’s a unique city and its uniqueness comes to forefront in the months of September - October, when the entire city would be on the streets and clogging the markets. A time when general public would be soaked with the mood of festivity, the shop owners would work overtime. The queues in front of the shops always amused me, but every year I would be part of those long queues in front of a Shoe or a Garment shop. It would be the time of Durga Puja. I always wonder the way the entire city would transform during those ten days, especially during the last four days. It doesn’t matter if you are an atheist or belong to a different community or religion, you can’t stop indulging yourself in the celebration in some way or the other.
Md. Ali Park Durga Puja.(Picture Sourced from Internet)
The city is said to be culturally rich, and if you want to know why, you should be in Kolkata during the Durga Puja. The preparations start moths in advance, the enthusiasm of the city rises with each passing day and it reaches its pinnacle during the last four days. Newspapers publish their reviews of various Pandals. The Pandals generally represent the rich culture, but at times, they become innovative. I still remember, after 9/11 the Mahishasur was replaced by Osama.
Metro Trains run overnight, packed to suffocating levels, but people flaunting their new clothes remain unaffected because they are busy. Busy is planning the route to cover as many Pandals, and roadside stalls to target to please their taste buds. Well! This is one aspect of the people of Kolkata, you cannot keep them away from food for a long time.
The festivity captures all the colours of the universe. When the time comes to say bye to the Goddess for one year, amid the sadness and tears in the same eyes that were glittering for last several days, the married ladies come out with the colour that is deeply rooted in our culture. (Sindur Khela).
Miles away from Kolkata, I certainly miss the celebration. Though, Durga Puja is celebrated in Bangalore as well, that uniqueness of Kolkata can never be created. Having said that, there are certain aspects I am happy that I don’t face in Bangalore. When the entire city prepares enthusiastically for the celebration, a few students, or people not belonging to Kolkata (according to the so called locals), would spend a few nightmarish days if they don’t have an open wallet. The local people are asked to give Chanda (Donation) as per their wish, but the wishes of those few people to celebrate the festival happily are eclipsed by the forceful but untenable demand of extremely high Chanda.
The Pandals organising the Pujas should also understand that the festival is all about celebration, but not bragging the fact that you are celebrating. The loudspeakers should follow the decibel limit and night restrictions, but invariably in many cases that doesn’t happen.
I wish one day, every individual would be respected, the same way the Goddess herself would have liked.
Wish you all Happy Days ahead and Subho Bijoya in Advance.

PS: The words in italics are extract from a Novel I have just finished writing.


  1. Wow! First of all congratulation on the novel... :) Now the asli task begins though! But anyway thanks so much for this submission... I have shared the same on my FB page.

    1. Thanks Rajrupa ... Regarding Novel, its more difficult than writing to get a publisher :( ...

  2. One suggestion.... Why dont u turn on comment moderation rather than this annoying Captcha?? They can really obscure!!! :(


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