Festival season has started in India. Navratris, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and all of these in the month of October. These days everyone is enjoying Durga Puja by visiting various pandals in the vicinity.
The other day we were discussing about Durga Puja on lunch table. And scale of this festival amazes most of us. It's prominently celebrated in West Bengal but now it's celebrated in almost every city and not limited to Bengali families. There is a huge area called Kumartuli in Kolkata where Durga Puja idols are made and exported to various countries in the world. Lot artists from Kumartuli and other areas move to various cities of India to help creating some beautiful Durga idols. Soil used to make these idols has to come from Kumartuli. So soil from Kumartuli is mixed in all idols made across the world. Isn't that amazing.
There are many such regional festivals in India which are celebrated at community level but I have seen Durga Puja as one of the most popular so far. In Kolkata, almost every street has it's own Pandal and celebration. And in cities like Delhi, non-Bengali people also love visiting these Pandal and celebrate Durga Puja. There are plenty of options to eat in these pandals and that's one of the best part of Durga Puja.
Ganesh Chaturthi is another community festival which is extremely popular in Maharashtra but I have not seen much influence in north. People has started celebrating it in cities like Delhi, but still it's not happening at community level like Durga Puja.
The preparations of Durga Puja celebrations start very early. Kumartuli artists start working on idol from the month of March, even when it's celebrated in the month of October. Lot of these artists start getting orders for next year just after the Durga Puja. To fulfil high demand of these idols in international market, Artists have to start quite early. They also need to consider the time for shipping these idols to different countries. It seems there are agencies, which take care of these logistics. And apart from Durga, various other idols are also made.
There are various kinds of demands in market w.r.t. design, color combination, size etc. In fact, in Kolkata prizes are given on the basis of size, best decorated pandal, most eco-friendly Pandals etc. I know a little about this festival and to really experience what happens during Durga Puja, you need to visit one of these pandals near you. And if you can visit Kolkata during Durga Puja, nothing like it.
During evenings, lot of entertainment programs are organised at these pandals. You would be surprised to see some of the bollywood artists performing in these pandals. Certainly it generates lot of business for bollywood stars, especially for folks who belong to West Bengal. Most of the popular bengali singers can be heard live in these Pnadals.
I never miss a chance to do Pandal hopping in Noida and have seen Bollywood singers performing at Sector-26 pandal, which is one of the most popular pandals in Noida. These days, pandals can be found in almost every sector or even bigger societies.
I would like to hear from you about your favorite community festival celebrated in India and please do let us know if you think there is other community festival which is bigger than Durga Puja.
I would request you to follow these things when traveling -
- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite