Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 2)

Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 2)

The Durga Puja (Pujo in Bengali) is celebrated in various parts of India in different styles, but not on the grand scale of the Festival in Calcutta. This year’s celebration will be starting in a few weeks. I attended and photographed Durga Puja in Kolkata in October, 2011.

The days are long. The heat and humidity are oppressive; the crowds, claustrophobic. The sights, sounds, and smells can be overwhelming at times. In spite of and because of the difficult conditions Durga Puja was truly an experience of a life time.

Below is the second part of a two part post.

Click here for part one of this post.

Click here for free Durga Puja computer wallpaper.

Now all of the age old Hindu rites and rituals associated with the Puja begin in earnest. At each pandal a priest is presiding over the pageantry. There is a feeling of loving devotion to Maa Durga as well as joyous celebration. Everyone is dressed in their holiday best. Women are wearing the most beautiful saris imaginable while showing off their gold jewelry.The mood and atmosphere is truly something to behold. Amidst the burning incense the priest’s chanting, dhakis’ drumming, and the bell ringing all seem to be perfectly choreographed. Offerings of food such as fresh fruits, sweets, rice, and ghee are made. Durga holds a lotus blossom, marigold garlands are hung from her neck, rose petals are thrown at her feet. Throngs of people brave the heat and congestion to visit as many pandals as they possible can.

Dashami is the last day of Durga Puja, when a tearful farewell is offered to the deity as she is entreated to return to her celestial home and to return again next year. The married ladies smear Her with vermillion(sindoor) and offer sweets, and beetle-leaf(paan). Then women paint each other with vermillion and share the sweets.

Finally Durga and her entourage are brought by truck or rickshaw with much fanfare to the various ghats along the Hougly River for immersion. Upon reaching the ghat the idols are carried to the water and turned around an uneven number of times and then while facing the bank are immersed with the beat of the dhaks and blowing of conch shells.

Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. Just stunning! So vibrant and colourful. Making me homesick!

    1. Thanks Kiran, I take that as a real compliment.

  2. Great capture Ron! The atmosphere is palpable 🙂

    1. Thank you Madhu. The credit goes to the people. They were so exuberant, friendly, and welcoming.

  3. That was a wonderful album, Ron – as though you were right in there with your camera so we could see everything close up. Such a cornucopia of colour and aeons of tradition distilled in your pictures – yes, just wonderful.

    1. Oh, thank you. As I said above, the people of Calcutta were just great and mede it possible.

  4. Your photos are outstanding, Ron. Thanks to you I’m able to see all the highlights of this festival, in glorious technicolour. 🙂

    1. Thank you AD. I so appreciates all of your comments. Your the greatest!

  5. Me encantan!!! I love how you not only look at the big scene, but find the little details as well…And love your explanations…..I have to confess my absolutly lack of knwoledge about this subject…I am learning with you a lot of things!!!

    1. Thank you. Putting it all together was a labor of love and a real education for me too.

  6. more superb shots. Love the one of the women dancing with joy with the colored faces. Reminds me a little of Holi. Love all the photos actually. Thanks for sharing. And of course your narration is wonderful as well! I appreciate the effort you put into this.
    with love light and JOY

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Jane. It was such a wonderful experience and it has been so rewarding to share.

    1. Thank you Rona. I so appreciate your comments. I enjoy your blog and thing your photography is superb .

  7. Loved these shots, my fav is image #5, the bejewelled womans hand.

    1. Thank you. That is one of my favorites as well.

    1. Thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for visiting.

  8. The Durga shots are so powerful…

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. It was a wonderful but difficult experience.

  9. Those photos really tell a story on their own. Magnificently done.

  10. Hi Ron, nice to meet you. Isn’t India amazing! There’s nothing like it. Your time at the Durga Puja reminds me a little of our 10 days at the Pushkar camel fair – quite extraordinary.
    Thanks for visiting our blog, and for the like on the Varanasi post. Varanasi was spectacular too. (I run out of superlatives!)

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