Durga Puja in Kolkata – Your Complete Guide to West Bengal’s Joyous Festival

Durga Puja in Kolkata is the grandest of all festivals celebrated within the capital metropolis in honour of Goddess Durga through the interval of Navaratri. Whereas the competition of Durga Pujo is certainly celebrated grandiosely the world over, in Kolkata, the vigour with which it’s celebrated is second to none. It’s celebrated for 10 days, ranging from the sixth day till the ninth day, the Pandals with grand idols of Goddess Durga are open for guests. The tenth day, also referred to as Dashami marks the Visarjan (immersion in water) of the idol with grand celebrations and processions.  Durga Puja 2020 begins on September 17th and has its final day or Dusshera on 26th October.

Durga Puja Dates 2020: Calendar and Schedule

Necessary Events Date Day
Mahalaya, First Day 17 September 2020 Thursday
Panchmi, Fifth Day 21 October 2020 Wednesday
Shashthi, Sixth day 22 October 2020 Thursday
Saptami, Seventh Day 23 October 2020 Friday
Ashtami, Eight and largest day 24 October 2020 Saturday
Nabami, Ninth Day 25 October 2020 Sunday
Dashmi, Tenth Day 26 October 2020 Monday

What’s the Competition of Durga Puja?

Durga Ballygunge Durga Puja Samiti
Durga Ballygunge Durga Puja Samiti

Based on the Hindu Mythology, Goddess Durga emerged from the collective power of all of the Kings and Gods (devas) as an embodiment of Shakti or divine female energy, to destroy demon Mahishasura; who was blessed to not be defeated by any man or god. The title Durga in Sanskrit means ‘the impenetrable’; she exists in a state of self-sufficiency and in final energy. This highly effective type of Mom Goddess is very revered in Kolkata which is why her return is well known with a lot grandeur and ceremonies. If you’re in Kolkata throughout Durga Pooja, these are the favored options of the grand celebrations, you should not miss out on. The preparations for the competition are as fascinating because the competition itself. Per week previous to the competition, town gears up and may be seen carrying a glance of eagerness and pleasure because it prepares itself to welcome the Goddess dwelling.

Chokkhu Daan – The Day When Eyes of Goddess Durga are Painted for Durga Puja in Kolkata

Chokkhu Daan
Chokkhu Daan

Durga Puja in Kolkata has its personal distinctive rituals. Per week earlier than Navratri begins; the idols of Goddess Durga are being painted and made prepared aside from the eyes. On the event of Mahalaya, the Goddess is invited on earth with rituals and so forth at the present time, the eyes are drawn on the idols in an auspicious ritual referred to as Chokku Daan. It’s believed the Goddess descends to earth on the time of drawing the eyes on the idols. Kumartuli or potter’s locality is a well-known place in North Kolkata the place a majority of the idols are made.

The Procession to Deliver within the Deity: Durga Puja 2020 in Kolkata

Bringing in the idol
Bringing in the idol

On the sixth day of Navaratri i.e. the first day of Durga Puja in Kolkata; the beautifully decorated idols are brought home or placed magnificently as decorated public pandals. The idol is then decorated with flowers, clothes, jewellery, red vermillion and various sweets are kept in front of the Goddess. The idol of the Goddess is accompanied by the idol of Lord Ganesh. Goddess Durga is considered to be Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati’s avatar and thus the mother of Lord Ganesh and his brother Kartikeya.

The Ritual of Pran Pratishta – Kola Bou Bath

Kola Bou being bathed at the river
Kola Bou being bathed at the river

This is the ritual of invoking the presence of the Goddess in the idol. This takes place on the seventh day, when early in the morning; a small banana plant called Kola Bou is taken to the river to be bathed and dressed in a red-bordered sari and carried back in a procession to be placed near the idol of the Goddess. This is then followed by ritualistic prayers and puja, that will take place for all the remaining days of the festival. There are also a lot of cultural activities that take place as part of the celebrations. People come together to dance, sing, perform plays and traditional.

Dashami – The Last Day of the Durga Puja

durga immersion
durga immersion

The tenth day of the Durga Puja festival is called Dashami; it is believed that on this day, Goddess Durga gained victory over the Demon and thus restored the balance on the earth. It is also known as Vijayadashami. On this day, Goddess Durga is worshipped and offered many things as she is prepared to leave. Highly enthusiastic devotees gather in large numbers to join the procession that carries the Goddess to the ghats to be immersed in water. Women, especially married woman initiate the procession by first applying red sindoor or vermillion powder on the Goddess and then to each other. It is said to be a symbol of marriage and fertility. The immersion of the idol is similar to the immersion of the Ganesha idol during Ganesh Chaturti. Babu Ghat is one of the popular places for immersion located near Eden Garden.

Durga Pooja Pandals, Decorations and Food

Durga puja pandal
Durga puja pandal

The gorgeously decorated pandals each emphasize a theme; be it the legends of Goddess Durga or scenes from Hindu epic texts. Nowadays, some pandals are themed on a social cause to spread awareness. Day time is usually better to see the pandals closely when the crowd is less however; the brightly lit pandals in hundreds of colors is quite a sight of its own in the evenings. The 10 Famous Kolkata Durga Puja Pandals are:

Ekdalia Evergreen: Set up in 1943, it is famous for replicating temples from all over India through its artwork. It is located in Gariaghat, to the south of the city.
Bagbazar: Located in North Kolkata, along with the river. it is about 100 years old and focuses on simplicity and traditional rituals
Kumartuli Park: Established in 1995 (near Bagbazar, so you can visit them both in one go) and famous for ingenious themes, the idols are handcrafted
College Square: Set up in 1948 beside a lake in Central Kolkata (off MG road), It’s illumination and reflected beauty is the talk of the town.
Mohammad Ali Park: Started in 1969 on MG road, this place is famous for showcasing the beautiful architecture of monuments. Club this place with College square.
Suruchi Sangha: Famous for depicting a state of India through it’s artwork and installations, even the idols are modelled accordingly. It is 50 years old and located in New Alipore, South Kolkata.
Santosh Mitra Square: Established in 1936 in the Bow Bazar area, it was earlier known as Sealdah Sarbojanin Durgotsav. It is famous for it beautifully intricate artwork display.
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir: Winner of multiple awards, and famous for showcasing rural Bengal through motifs, idols and artwork. It is located in Bose Pukar kasba in south of the city and is a must-visit.
Jodhpur Park: Another popular pandal, this one has a wide gamut of themes and surprises with a unique element each year. It is located near Jadavpur Thana in South Kolkata.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha: A people’s favourite and quite old (75 years), this place in Kalighat, South Kolkata, won an award for creative excellence in 2010.

Bhog
Bhog

Food is a major feature of the Kolkata Durga Puja festival and Kolkata is reputed to be a foodie’s paradise. Sure enough, in a festival this grand you are bound to find the most delicious and incredible variety of Bengali cuisine. From snacks and sweet dishes that only Kolkata is famous for; to the Kolkata Durga Puja special themed Bhog meals that have a little of everything. All the pandals offer Bhog (offerings made to the Goddess Durga which is later distributed among the devotees) and community kitchens are also set up.

If you want to binge on the delicacies that the place offers, you may read Street Food of Kolkata.

Aarti dance
Aarti dance

This grand social event of Durga Puja showcases the beautiful culture of the Bengalis in India. The evenings during Kolkata Durga Puja witness the streets packed with thousands of people both locals and tourists alike who come to see the large beautifully decorated idols of Goddess Durga, to offer their prayers, eat at the numerous stalls that pop up in the streets and take part in the grand celebrations to honor the victory of Goddess Durga over evil.

Complete List of Durga Puja Pandals
1. New Alipore,Suruchi Sangha,Buro Shibtala
2. Behala,Behala Natun Dal,Friends Club,Debdaru Fatak,Shree Sangha
3. Khiddiropore,Pally Sharadiya,75 Pally,25 Pally,Nabarag,Yubak Sangha,Kabi Tirtha,Yuba Gosthi
4. Naktala,Naktala Udyan Sangha,Nabadurga,Panchadurga
5. Khanna Theatre Crossing & Kankurgachi,Beleghata 33 Pally,Kankurgachi Mitali Sangha,Kankurgachi Yubak Brinda
6. Shyambazar 5-Point Junction & Hatibagan,Hatibagan Sarbojanin,Kasi Bose Lane,Nalin Sarkar Street,Nabin Pally
7. Maniktala,Chaltabagan,Loha Patti,Vivekananda Sporting,Bayan Samity,Lala Bagan,Kar Bagan
8. Chetla,Chetla Agrani,Akal Bodhan,Alipore Sarbojanin
9. Ultandanga,Ultandanga Pallysree,Ultandanga Sangrami,Golaghata Sarbojanin
10. Mahatma Gandhi Road (Near Sealdar),Santosh Mitra Square,College Square,MD. Ali Park
11. Sobhabazar & Girish Park (Metro),Kumortuli Park Sarbojanin,Ahiritola,Shimla Street,Kumor Tuli Sarbajanin,Jagat Mukharjee Park,Beniatola,Pathuriaghata,Darpanarayan Street,Bagarbazar Sarbajanin,Tala Prottoye,Tala Borawari
12. Dum Dum & Laketown,Sree Bhumi Sporting Club,Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra,Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha,Lake Town Netaji Sporting,Lake Town Adibashi Brinda
13. Bhawanipore,Bhawanipuri Rupchand,Jatin Das Park,Abasar Sarbajanin
14. Ballygaunge,Ballygaunge Cultural,
15. Thakurpur,SBI Park,
16. Rashbehari Avenue
66 Pally,Badamtala,Nepal Bhattachariy Street,Shib Mandir
17. Tollygunge,Mudiali Club,
18. Haridevpur,Ajeyo Sanghati
41 Pally,Vivekananda Sporting,Vivekananda Park Athletic
19. Gariahat,Ekdalia Evergreen,Singhi Park
20. Santhoshpur (Jadavpur),Santhoshpur Avenue,Santhoshpur Lakepally,Trikon Park,Pally Mangal Samity
21. Dhakuria & Jodhpur Park
95 Pally,Babubagan,Selimpur
22. Deshapriya Park,Deshapriya Park,Tridhara,Hindusthan Park,Hindusthan Club,Samaj Sebi
23. Kasba,Bosepukur Sitala Mandir,Talbagan

For the uninitiated, this could be a lot to take in. So the simplest way to participate in the festivities and enjoy it to the hilt is to take a Durga Puja Festival Tour. Many such tours are organised by Govt and private agencies alike, the most prominent being the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation. Apart from these, Belur Math in Kolkata also holds a comprehensive program of Durga Puja Rituals.