Sunday, September 24, 2017

186. Durga Pooja this year

Navratras have started and Durga Pooja is round the corner. The weather is gradually turning to the better as if to add its bit to festivities. It is neither too hot nor too cold. 

Navratras have their own unique cuisines. Kuttu ke aate ki roti, makhaane ki kheer and a lot more delicious dishes which are otherwise not to be seen during the rest of the year. Dandiya, Garba, Ramlila,devotional music - all form part of Navratra celebrations. The celebrations will culminate into the much-awaited Durga Pooja.

Newspapers are full of preparations for the big occasion. Idols of Goddess Durga and preparation of pandals are integral parts of Durga Pooja festivities. This is the time when artistic skills of Bengalis are on full display. What I find very interesting is their ability to relate the festival to contemporary social issues. Every year, they come up with new ideas.

In Kolkata, a long street alpona ( traditional Bengali art of colourful designs and paintings done on the floor) was unveiled on Mahalaya day. Over 400 people including 300 students from art colleges created this masterpiece. The one kilometre long alpona had vivid colours and beautiful designs. Since we have such decorative traditions ( e.g. Rangoli) in other parts of the country as well, it will be nice if this experiment can be replicated in other parts of the country. This will be a good link in the Swachh Bharat campaign and will be an added attraction for tourists from abroad.

Another interesting aspect of this year's Durga Pooja is uniqueness of themes of pandals. In Chittaranjan Park, mini-Bengal of Delhi, the theme of the pandal this year is confluence of the culture of Bengal and the north-east. The idols will be draped in attires from the North-East while the pandal itself will be of traditional Bengali pattern. Organizers of the Durga Pooja at Matri Mandir in Safdarjung Enclave have decided to focus on women empowerment in their pandal. They will showcase life-size cutouts of women icons like Everest climber Poorna and Boxer Mary Kom. This gels very well with Durga Pooja which symbolises the power and strength of women.

People seem to be waiting with a lot of eagerness and zeal for Durga Pooja. This year's festival promises to go much beyond the traditional. 

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