Durga Puja is one of the most loved festivals of Bengal and Bengalis. It is about the worship of Goddess Durga who has ten hands. In each of her hand, she holds a weapon. This is because she has to fight a demon who keeps changing its shape. It is symbolic because Evil comes in many shapes and sizes and Good has to fend them off. Goddess Durga represents the good and she uses her armory of weapons to overcome the Evil. All the action for the festivities is in the city of Kolkata. It lies on the banks of the River Ganges and is the capital of Bengal, which is one of the Indian states. The festival attracts tourists from not just different parts of the country but also from abroad. Tour operators have a field day. This year the festival dates are from 5th to 8th of October.
The background of Durga Puja
Goddess Durga lives in the Himalayas with her husband Lord Shiva and four children. She comes down to Bengal once a year with her children to meet her mother. That is when the people celebrate her homecoming. In the olden days, it used to be a family affair. Some families have held on to the tradition for centuries. However, most of the pujas in Kolkata today are huge affairs. The funds come from donations and the organizers work 24×7 to ensure success.
Making the idol
Bamboo and straw go to make the framework of the idols. Layers of clay cover the framework. Next comes the decoration and painting before transportation to the venue. The idol makers live and work in Kumartuli, which is a beehive of activity. The artisans have to battle bad weather during the rainy season to deliver on time.
The immersion ceremony
All good things must end. The immersion ceremony is just that. The organizers take the idols in a procession to the banks of the Ganges for immersion. The number of pujas in Kolkata runs into hundreds but only a selected few join the procession. They are the ones with big banners. There are tours that offer river cruises for the evening.