Monday, 7 October 2013

Unique Durga Puja of Bengal

Another Durga puja, the festival for killing the demon by woman power, is knocking the door of Bengal. The final count down has started for the biggest autumnal show in the region.

Roads of Kolkata are being fragmented by virtual walls made of bamboos and wooden logs to control pandal hopping sea of humanity and reduce chaos of vehicular traffic from 10th to 14th October. Two sides of the main streets and nearby areas of major pandals of the city are being  covered by large banners and posters of A to Z products. The city is being illuminated in every nook and corner and the organizers have no time to eat and sleep. Even the Chief Minister of Bengal to silver screen celebrities have become busy with inaugurating hundreds of community pujas in the City of Joy and its suburbs. Artists and craftsmen from all over the country and even from Pakistan are working day and night to give finishing touches to all conceivable themes of art in pandals - the temporary shelters of the Durga idols.

Durga puja in Bengal touches all segments of people ignoring religious individualism. Even Bengali Muslims (28% of Bengal population) largely participates in the festival and communist parties open road side book stalls of Marxist literature to attract large number of common people. It appears that Bengalees are genetically connected with the festival and some of them spend lavishly going beyond their ability. It is also the time when many emigrant Bengali and tourists, mostly from North America and Western Europe, come to Bengal to enjoy the strangeness and unique festive mood of the state.


Durga idol image


The financial transactions for the festival touching new record every year. Despite slower economic growth and high retail inflation,Chamber of Commerce has estimated that this year's festival related expenditure will touch Rs. 37 thousand crore (USD 596,77,41,935 roughly). Many industries, particularly garments, durable consumer goods and tourism have been enveloping  large areas of print  and electronic media during the last one month for a greater share of the expenditure. Millions of  additional man-days  of unskilled  and semi-skilled  laborers are also created for making the earthen Durga idols, erection of pandals, immersion of idols and many other puja related activities. So, the Bengal's economy gets a boost too.

The only dark side of the episode is fleecing of traders and householders by some community puja organizers for large 'donation'. However, now-a-days industry and business houses have entered the arena in a big way
for sponsoring the big community pujas  in lieu of advertisement of their products.