Durga Puja is celebrated to worship the Goddess of power and war, the Goddess Durga, and to celebrate Naari-shakti – the feminine power. This festival truly symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
UNESCO added the mega-festival to its ‘Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ in December 2021. After two years of restricted movement owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, revelers this year took to pandal hopping in Kolkata with vigor on Sasthi, the first day of the Durga Puja festival. Of the 40,092 puja venues, 2,141 are said to be organized by women in Kolkata.
As the 10-day long festival to celebrate the ‘shakti’ kick-started on October 1, we take a look at some of the quirkiest, unique and creative pandals set up across West Bengal; and other parts of the country.
Pandals go metaverse for virtual viewing
Durga Puja has not only gone global, thanks to the Unesco inscription, but they have now also entered the metaverse, the network of 3D virtual worlds focused on the social connection that is set to revolutionize the online experience.
Four puja pandals in Kolkata — Ahiritola Sarbojanin, Deshapriya Park, Ballygunge Cultural Association, and Tallah Prattoy —have their metaverse twins created which can be accessed in real-time for an immersive walk-through by the metaverse avatar of the virtual visitor.
Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav with commemorative coins
Every year, Kolkata brings a new theme to Durga Puja pandals, which are unique and innovative in their own way. With the celebrations of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav Puja pandal at the Dhakuria in South Kolkata has come with a unique pandal that is made of thousands of commemorative coins issued since independence.
The theme of this year’s Durga Puja pandal is “Maa Tujhe Salaam”.
Durga Puja Pandals in New Delhi
All of us know that Durga Puja is a big deal in West Bengal and especially in Kolkata. The festival celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over evil Mahisasur. But Durga Puja in Delhi is also fervently celebrated. Pandal hopping is a common thing in Durga puja where people view different idols. As the Bengalis have migrated to different parts of the country, they have started celebrating their tradition in different cities. Delhi is one such city that also reverberates with the Puja vibes, and you will feel that you have arrived at a mini Kolkata.
Delhi Kahmiri Gate Pandal
The Kashmiri Gate Durga puja pandal is the oldest Durga puja held in the city. Currently, the puja is being held at the Bengali Sr. Sec. School at Alipur Road. You can trace its origin to 1910 when it started as a ‘baroyari’ or community puja, so this pandal has crossed the 100-year mark.
Chittaranjan Park Kalibari
C.R Park in New Delhi is the most happening place during puja, and the committee makes sure to organize different events to increase the zeal of the people. Every year, they come up with a beautiful theme. Do wait for their selection of bhog as you will be left with some delicious prasad to gorge on.
All roads lead to Gujarat for Garba
Gujarat celebrates Navratri with nine nights of dancing, known as Garba, where dance is the form of worship for the goddess.
On October 1, External Affairs Minister arrived in Gujarat’s Vadodara, also known as the state’s culture capital with at least 50 ambassadors and high commissioners to take part in the ongoing Navratri celebrations.
Apart from the ambassadors and diplomats and politicians, Indian athletes also enjoyed Garba and Navratri festivities. India’s badminton star PV Sindhu could not keep herself away from getting mesmerized. She was seen enjoying Garba in traditional Gujarati attire.