The most important festival of Bengalis is Durga Puja that celebrates the home-coming of the Goddess and her four children, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Kartikeya and Ganesha. Married to Lord Shiva, She stays in Mount Kailash, and during the autumn season, She returns to Her homeland. The Holy Mother is symbolic of triumph of Good over Evil, and power as Hindu mythology eulogizes Her as the conqueror over Mahisasura, a wily demon. She is believed to take away all woes and worries of her devotees.
The city seems to be dressing up as the festival approaches. Bamboo frameworks, lights, huge advertisement bill boards, temporary food stalls, revamped restaurant menus, discounts, shopping etc bring in the holiday mood.
Huge and gorgeous deities of Goddess Durga vanquishing Mahisasura, and her children are prepared of clay, in different parts of the city. Kumartuli is the most famous village where clay idols are made. In fact, the work starts way ahead of the festival.
The deities are set up in pandals, or shelters created specially for this purpose. The creativity that goes in the design of pandals is amazing. Every locality has a Puja of its own depending on their budget– and there is stiff competition for getting maximum footfalls and awards. A number of awards are given by media houses, television channels, etc to encourage the organizers to come up with unique themes, try for innovative materials, etc. Can you imagine a pandal made of plastic bottles or grains of rice? The workmanship is exquisite and it’s a pity that everything has to be dismantled after a few days.