Home to 3 of India’s 5 Noble Laureates, Kolkata is the educational, religious, cultural and heritage capital of the eastern part of India but actually beauty in imperfection. This vibrant city is warm in its embrace and still warmer in hospitality and kindness, overwhelming visitors with its festivals, colours and flavours. The city comes truly live during those 5 days of autumn when the annual Durga Puja Festival (celebrating the mother goddess) is held in every nook and corner worshipping clay idols hosted in beautifully crafted makeshift structures (pandals).
In Search of the Face of Durga during those 5 days in Autumn
I have spent my growing up years in the city when Durga Puja celebrations were all about new clothes, new shoes and lots of good food and ofcourse pandal hopping. It was the time to greet Durga Ma and ask for everything under the sun that appeared important at that point in time. Several years later as a non resident, I still look forward to crisscrossing the city most often on foot and sometimes by car, pandal hopping to experience the endless kaleidoscope of form, colour and motion during those 5 days of Durga Puja. My friends and family often ask me why I keep going all over the city year on year, since not much changes in their opinion. I carefully avoid to answer since it is hard to explain that with every step I take to see the face of the many idols of Durga Ma, I live a little bit of me. To me they are not clay, they are life in myriad forms.
Face of the Durga Idols
In search of the many moods of the mother goddess, I feel something unfolding, something emerging and something shifting within me. The arty, sophisticated, contemporary faces merge effortlessly into the ones that exude heritage as they all breathe life in many veins, compassion, love, kindness, girl next door, assurance, calm, peace, protector, shy, strength, happy and so on. Sometimes, I wonder whether her face reflects the mood of the sculptor when he was breathing life into her or she manifests herself through divine choice. With time, my face has a few wrinkles here and there but the face of the mother mirrors the soul, ageless and timeless representing perennial youth.
In 2017 Durga Puja will be celebrated between 26th September and 30th September. I will be more than happy to extend any help for anyone planning a trip. Feel the grandeur for a day atleast and enjoy her many faces.