Durga Puja – The biggest festival in our life – Part – II

Shubh Navaratra.

It’s the time of the year when the unique beat of the ‘dhak’ reverberates everywhere. There is a mood to celebrate the grand nine days of pure joy everywhere. The puja actually begins in the dawn of Mahalaya.


Mahalaya, is celebrated to usher the Debipaksha lunar fortnight and the Durga Puja. The day starts with the ‘Mahisasura Mardini’ broadcast, a collection of shlokas, devotional songs, classical music broadcast by All India Radio, Kolkata at 4 am, in the dawn of Mahalaya every year since 1932. Just before Mahalaya, we search the old radio set, which might have not been in use since the last year’s Mahalaya day, check or even buy a new set just to tune to the programme. The popularity of this programme remains undiminished even today. The program has also been translated into Hindi set to similar orchestration and is broadcast at the same time for a pan-Indian audience.




However, today we can listen Mahalaya at any point of time of the year, but the charm to wake up at 3:50 in the morning with the sound of an alarm clock and switch on your old radio set to listen the programme is a completely different experience. If you have missed yesterday’s Mahalaya broadcast and interested to listen, you can check the following link and enjoy:


It’s also time to remember our ancestors on Mahalaya day. The rituals and rites on Mahalaya day are performed early morning on riverbanks or on seashore. The main offering made on Mahalaya to ancestors is food. It is believed that performing Tarpanams or Tarpan during ‘Devi Paksha’ will bless your ancestors and will free them from all their sins.

You can also consider Durga Puja as a separate Industry and yes, it is a very big Industry on it’s own terms. You will be amazed to see the effort, creativity, money invested in organizing Durga Puja in Kolkata & its’ suburbs or even in rural Bengal, as well as other parts of the country. It’s a well-orchestrated programme from the start to end. The planning of a successful puja or say any Puja can beat business plan of  big corporate houses by miles. There would be thousands of puja pandals, large or medium, with budgets for these pandals ranging from a lakh to a few crores. Every cog in the Durga Puja wheel has become a separate industry – idol making, pandals, flowers, the dhak, restaurants or street foods, transportation and how can I forget garment industry or so many others like artisans from various parts of the country etc. etc.. You may also call it a wastage of money but people look forward to this festival not only to welcome Ma Durga or to enjoy the puja alone, but this madness also gives them the opportunity to earn for their entire year’s livelihood. There are many families whose livelihood completely depend on these three to four months for the entire year, unbelievable but true.

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

Creativity or Durga Puja Industry

After extensive plannining for a year (read ‘a year’ and not few months only), the execution is always perfect.

Puja shopping (Pujo-i chai [want] natun [new] jama [dress] aar [and] natun [new] juto [shoes])

“Have you done your pujo shopping? I have ____, what about you”. We anxiously ask each other when we meet anyone or even during long distance phone. The other person may be in another part of the world, so what…

Pujo shopping is unique to all Bengalis. Durga Puja is just one such occasions to empty the pockets and we don’t mind…actually we love this.  People literally save money, plan well in advance only for puja shopping. As I mentioned it earlier, this is the perfect opportunity to connect with everyone.  The exchange of gifts is one of the best ways to do so. It’s just like Diwali in Northern India. To make someone feel really special and not the value of the gifts is the intent behind the gifts. There will also be an invitation to visit a friend’s house just to see her new dresses vice-versa.

Every parents, rich or  poor, dream to buy something new for their children during this time. Ma Durga is for all of us and there is no difference. I pray to GOD to give your blessings to all those poor families to bring smiles to their children like always.





‘Sarodia’ Maganizes

Durga Puja is also known as Sarodautsav. It’s also time to buy and read Sarodia Magazines. All the major publication houses in Kolkata publish a special magazine before Durga Puja, which contains novels, stories, fictions, travelogues from all the famous writers. These magazines are also being used as a launchpad for the new writers. Magazines hit the stand before Mahalaya and find a home almost immediately. Everyone eagerly waits for the same.  It’s also a point of discussions during numerous ‘addas’ regarding the best stories, novels of the year or checking out the list of new writers, the best story or how many magazines do you have etc. etc.


Some of the above are essential components of the Puja, without mentioning them this post will not be completed.

So, you have the new dresses and you also have Sarodia magazines in your hand. Sarodia music (new albums released just before Puja) is also in the air from numerous pandals, as well as Rabindra Sangeet and songs from the golden era of Bengali music (Late Hemanta Mukherjee & Shyamal Mitra or our evergreen Manna Dey). Most of us have also reached our home.  The stage is all set to welcome Ma Durga. So what are we waiting for….

Wishing you all a very Happy Durga Puja and have a great time (“Pujor adda” to all my bong friends, readers) during this festival season with your near & dear ones.

See you very soon with the next part and may be also in different pujo pandals…


  • Abheeruchi says:


    Good series…With this series we will be able to see Pooja mandal…

    I remember when I was in Kolkata we saw Durga Maa and other God/Goddess idol made exclusively from Just Gamcha (Red thin towel) , or idol just from match boxes or Idol just from coke can…That is all is creativity…

    Subho Mahalaya to you and your family…ENJOY

    • Thank you Abhee – it will be my pleasure to bring them to you…but may be in my last post…you will not be disappointed at the end of it.

      Yes, you will find all kind of stuff, which we can’t even think of…I remember those idols and may be I had them in my archives/films as well…creativity and imagination at it’s best.

      Thank you for your wishes…my best wishes to you as well…

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Amitav,

    It is a hearty feeling to be the first one to write my comments on your post.

    Really enjoyed reading this elaborate, well paced piece.

    Pics of the pandals are impressive – agree with you that each pandal is a laborious outcome of detailed planning and activity. They do help encourage the creativity of local artists.

    It is equally creative to include Sarodiya magazines here. I mean, after any Puja holiday to Cal I would pick up 2-3 of them to relish through the year; but I would have forgotten to mention about them when penning down an article. And yes, our collection would include an Anandmela, a Desh and probably a Bortomaan (not seen here)/ ABP (seen here) :-)

    Addata jomchchey….Nice going…..


    • Hi Auro…Tx a ton…really believe me
      These pictures are from 2009 Pujo, as last two years we were here only. This time, we will be there.
      The best part is the flawless excution of the planning…many things to learn, like ‘dabbawala’, this can be a research topic in Harvard as well..

      I just thought to include them. Unfortunately, Desh was not there in CR Park Bookstall when we bought them three weeks ago.

      ‘Addata jomle bhaloi lagbe – ki bolo…
      Enjoy and take care,

  • Beautiful account of Durga Pooja… took me back to good old Kolkata, some of my friends here in Hyderabad are Bengalis and have a very vibrant bengali community.. I will be attending some of the pandals

  • Amitava,

    First of all wish you a Happy Navratri and Durga puja .Like Kolkatta even in Gujarat and Mumbai this festival is celebrated in tremendous passion. A great Euphoria is all around and people wait for night to play Garba and Dandia .

    Wonderful post and desription. Keep Travelling and Posting

    • Thank you & wishing you a very happy Durga Puja and Navaratri, Vishal.
      Yeah…it’s being celebrated everywhere in India and surely in Mumbai and Gujarat.

      One Puja is being organized by Abhijeet Bhattacharya…even you can see other filmstars like Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Bipasha Basu…and Shaan in those pandals.

      ..and sure there will be dandia…the famouse ‘Dandia’ is also very popular at my home, courtesy my son’s favourite ‘Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chasma’ in SAB, the only serial we get to see nowadays, apart from Chota Bheem and Doraemon…no cricket, no football and no cinema…

      Have a wonderful time…

  • Naina says:

    Ekdum jomiye deye cho guru…. tar par fata fati lekha …. ashadharon …. :D

    Really enjoyed reading line by line word by word…..

    The feeling of Durga Puja starts much in advance with changing season, weather & climate….soon after monsoon is over….the lush green grass, new leaves on tree, chirping birds, young calfs playing and grazing, sweet fragrance of flowers, wind blowing softly, and making circles in nearby pond, ducks quacking & waddling in a line, smoke coming out of distant chimneys . as a kid, these were enough for me to understand that Puja is nearing..but with increasing demand in life at metro, and keeping up with the requirements, slowly everything started fading away.

    When I started reading your blog, everything started flashing in front of.as if its really happening. I will be travelling to my native, a small village in Asansol (WB) district, almost after a decade. will try to post some pix over here.

    Till then keep writing, and keep blogging.and happy Durga Puja..

    • Tx a ton…for your sweet words…
      I do have the same feeling like yours’ and I can bet there are many like us…I always wonder if there is really an alternative and try my best to keep those things alive in me…at least that’s the best I can do when there is really no alternative…

      My own home is also in a small village in Hooghly district…not very far from your place…so these are quite familiar to me…

      Lastly, the way you described…I can sense that we are just a few days away for a great post from you…it’s already cooking…

      Wishing you to have a great time and have a nice journey back home…Happy Durga Puja

  • Nandan Jha says:

    So after looking at Pandals on Vishal’s “Ganeshotsava” post, here comes another treat from the Eastern side of this great country. A lot of things were new to me, hoping to have a pandal-chakkar in a couple of days in Delhi.

    • Hi Nandan…

      Tx, true this great country of ours has many many such things to offer and this is just a tip of the iceberg. I know some of these mentioned above will be new to many of you…but now you must be aware of a few things and I am sure you would love to know more. It just doesn’t matter about our personal belief any more…it’s a great opportunity to strengthen relationship and may be a delight for photographers…

      Did you actually visit the pandals in Delhi…if yes, how was your experience…

      • Nandan Jha says:

        Yes, two Pandals so far. :-) One was on the lines of ‘India Gate’ and the other was ‘PVR’, celebrating 100 years of Cinema. Hoping to have some chakkar more, lets see.

  • Nirdesh says:

    Hi Amitava,

    Happy Durga Puja.

    The festive season is in full swing!

    Great Post. Time to hit Chhittaranjan Park!


  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Great Job !

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Amitava Ji,,

    Very Nicely described post and glad to see the pictures of Durga Puja Pandals…..


  • Sharmistha Dan says:

    Hey Amitava, through your posts you have proved yourself to be a true Kolkatan. Even I, living in Kolkata never thought of writing a blog on Durga Puja. There are really very few people who inspite of living out of Kolkata boast about its treasures.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Thank you Sharmistha.
      So, it’s only a few days time from now…countdown has already started I believe for all of you…yeah..including us

      Why don’t you write a post on the pre-Puja things…

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