Link to the article : http://thesparktimes.com/pride-of-bengal-durga-puja/
Just imagine, festive mood starts in the city of joy – Kolkata from two months in advance – new clothes, shoes, accessories .Most all shops especially around Gariahat and New Market will be over-crowded – the restaurants will be full till the time it’s not closing down – bad traffic on the road due to amount of crowd, you will hear the hawkers on the road selling different goods shouting with the maximum volume in their vocal cord throughout the day. Once the Puja starts for five days – The full stretch of roads covered with lightings and once its evening when someone passes by , a feeling of second Diwali lighting celebration will definitely strike anyone’s mind – pandals located after every signal on both sides , few small ones and few big ones – I can hear the sound of drums and clash of cymbals from almost every pandals – numerous people on the road walking through the pavement with their new clothes – police very active on the road to control crowds and traffic together.
Looking back to the past, the origin of public celebrations of grand Durga Puja can be traced back to the 16th century. With the ascent of the Mughals, Durga Puja became more of a status symbol in those days. Annual festival of Durga Puja soon became the most celebrated festival and as a day for merriment with friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances. Since it’s a festival hosted for over a week and is considered as one of the most expensive festivals of India, earlier in my childhood days the celebrations were littler and was mostly performed by richer class of the society but after the economic boom gradually from the time of my mid-school days the scenario started changing – the evolution of clubs, association and societies has made the Durga Puja truly cosmopolitan in nature. The social and ritualistic significance of the Durga Puja has also been modified to a certain extent.
Throughout five days, multiple rituals are being performed as a custom for Puja but one ritual which really allures me from within is Vermilion play – probably a four hundred or more years old and perhaps the best ritual so far I like about the weeklong celebration – mythology says ondashami evening – goddess Durga returns to her husband’s home , hence all married women mostly in white or yellow saree with red border are seen this time , honoring the goddess and each other with red powder “Sindur” , a sign of Bengali married women. The entire scene during this time appeals to me with elegance – all women putting vermilion on each other’s and goddess Durga’s face , greeting each other with sweets accompanied by the sound of drums and cymbals . I recall, vermillion play portrayed wonderfully in Bollywood Blockbuster “KAHANI”s climax scene.
Though the Puja is hosted for just five days but it keeps zeal of excitement, hopes, and wishes alive for the coming year within the heart of millions.