It is a moment of pride to see Durga puja celebrations be recognized by UNESCO to join the world heritage list.
Durga puja celebrations are not just about festivities during the days of Navaratri celebrations. Every family member belongs to a local community. Every local community (to be read as paada) takes pride in planning, ideating, fundraising, architecting, designing, building, decorating, competing and celebrating with thousands of people flocking to visit the pandals every year.
Right after this year’s Durga puja gets over and the pandal winners are announced, the local communities get together to plan for the next year around. Everyone in Kolkata knows which pandals are always in the top few, which pandals are BEST and which ones should not be missed that year 🙂 How the word gets around is amazing to see!
Talk to anyone in ANY household in Kolkata, they would have one of their family members or relatives active in their local paadas (or communities) either serving in the core group, or one of the committees focusing on the respective phases or activities of Durga puja celebrations or pandal creations. There is a sense of belonging that one feels while being part of the celebrations!
While the Durga puja theme is about Goddess Durga, the pandals bring out the creativity of the architects to connect the symbol of Goddess Durga with world events and setup pandals that are architecturally mesmerizing! All pandals created every year are demolished after Durga puja celebrations – irrespective of how beautiful they might turn out to be – symbolizing everything that is created comes to an end, and plans for the next pandal is initiated.
No household needs to cook during Durga puja celebrations. All pandals offer food for everyone. Literally, women get to step out of their homes without having to worry about preparing food for their families. Culturally, everyone looks forward to this time of the year!
The city comes alive during these days, with most of people on the roads visiting as many pandals as possible, taking pictures, eating good food, spending time with friends, listening to music programs broadcast on the local loudspeakers. Crowd management (well.. we can call it that :)) is always interesting to experience!
The livelihood of many niche skilled experts who hold the cultural and traditional values and implement them meticulously in these pandal celebrations is something that needs to be valued.
Sharing some unique pandals that were created
Durga puja pandal recreating Bahubali movie palace (Mahismati)
Look at the massive structures that are created, with great attention to detail in every inch of the structure.
It is an honor and a privilege to see Durga puja celebrations being recognized as a world heritage that needs to be preserved.