Durga Puja is as much a cultural and social festival as it is a religious one and the Kolkata festival is inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list.
Durga Puja or Durgotsava is a 10-day festival celebrated with great fervor in the eastern states of Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal. The last five days of the festival are the most important and the “pujas” are performed in private and temporary structures called pandals for the public. These pandals are beautifully decorated and are often much larger than the simple altar/porch needed to house the idols of Goddess Durga along with the other four statues of Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity), Saraswati (the Goddess of knowledge and music), Ganesha (the god of good beginnings) and Kartikeya (the god of war).
Pandals are often filled with food, entertainment and seating, among a plethora of decorations and religious activities. As a result, Durga Puja is as much a cultural and social festival as it is a religious one and the Kolkata festival is inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. The pujas and pandals of Kolkata are unrivaled in terms of grandeur, heritage and decorations.
Here are some of the legendary Durga Puja pandals that you must visit in Kolkata.
One of the most famous Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata, Ekdalia Evergreen is hosted near Gariahat and is known for its beautifully vibrant and artistic pandals which are often built as replicas of famous Hindu temples.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
A staple of the Durga Puja circuit in Kolkata, the Badamtala Ashar Sangha pandal has been performed every year for over 80 years. Located near Kalighat, the puja is known for its beautiful yet simple idols.
Established in 1948, the College Square puja pandal is set near the University of Kolkata and is known for its mesmerizing lighting, which shines from the surface of the lake on whose shore it sits. The surreal pandal is also known for its special kumara puja.
The first public Durga Puja pandal that was not made in an aristocrat’s house, the Bagbazar Sarbojonin is the oldest Durga Puja pandal in West Bengal, being over a century old. Today it is one of the most visited and famous puja pandals in the city.
Kumartuli Sarbojanin Park
Although not as old as some of the other famous puja pandals in the city, the puja pandal located off Kumartuli Park is known for its beautiful idols. Located in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and teeming with artists, the puja pandal is known to be made by some of the best idol craftsmen.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)