A Non-Bong in Kolkata – Much more than a Durga Pujo Pandal

posted by Anupriya 7 Comments
Durga Puja Pandal

As a non-Bong living in Kolkata for almost 8 years now, the high point of Durga Puja for the likes of me is the prospect of 4 days of consecutive night outs hopping from one pandal to another, eating out and most importantly experiencing the largest street carnival that anyone can ever witnesses.

By tradition, every locality has a common community Durga Puja managed by the local Durga Puja managing committees who invite the local residents of that area to join them in the Durga Puja proceedings that start from the sixth day of the Navratri. These are the same people who make contribution for these puja pandals for the proceedings of the rituals and bhog during the five days of Durga Puja. But over the years, these donations have become exorbitant, especially owing to ridiculous amounts doled out by the local politicians meant to appease the residents in their territory. With huge amounts getting involved, the dynamics of Durga Puja Pandal has added multiple hues to the celebrations. I am sure you are tempted to ask – How? Here are a couple of pointers –

A Haven For Designers & Art Students

The entire business of constructing Durga Puja Pandals is a systematic process that starts with conceptualized of theme. The designers of these Puja Pandals are renowned artists and architects from the city and beyond. It is a haven for students from the city art colleges to intern with these designers to work on designing and execution work for Puja Pandals, the budgets for some of which run into tens of crores.

Hundreds of specialized artisans are brought in and arrangements are made for them to stay on the site and work day and night to complete the construction work on time. Raw materials and accessories are collected from all over the country to bring in authenticity to the entire set-up. The mere scale of some Durga Puja Pandals is no less than that of a production house on a job to create sets for a medium budget movie.

Revolutionary Themes

Over the years the themes being depicted in some of the most visited Durga Puja Pandals have become symbolic of the message that the organizer or the designer wishes to send out to the masses.  I remember last year one  Durga Puja Pandal ‘s theme revolved around child labor and saving the girl child.  While this year one of the city artists has designed a theme around the acceptance of LGBT community in the main stream.

Then there are themes that focus on usage of a certain material such as polyvinyl pipes, bangles, plastic bags, locks & keys, discarded gears, card boards and what not. The designers can actually run wild with their imagination as there is the challenge of innovation and standing out as different from rest of the hundred of Puja Pandals

Advertisements & Sponsorships

The Durga Puja Pandals that have earned the reputation of attracting the maximum foot fall over the years become advertisement grounds for brands that seek to reach out to a large audience. These brands range from personal care products such as Boroline to construction goods from cement to paints and everything in between. A better crowd this year will ensure a particular puja committee, better sponsorships next year. And better sponsorships ensure, a larger budget for more indulgent theme based Durga Puja Pandal.

Traffic Management

This is the most difficult time of the year for Kolkata Traffic Police. A lot of planning and discipline goes in on the part of the department to ensure a robust traffic plan that ensures that people can ploy safely on foot and with vehicles. Ofcourse there are jams and delays yet the number of accidents and casualties is known to be minimal during this time when the number of people on road at any given point of time during the day is equivalent to half the size of city’s population (and trust me that’s a huge number)

I can go on and on about the Durga Puja Pandal (s)of Kolkata for another 100 words or more, but the bottomline is that these Pujo Pandals are great equalizers for people from all socio-economic strata. Everyone throngs these pandals for similar reasons – to have a glimpse of Maa in a different avatar, to appreciate the art, and be amazed at what human mind and hands are capable of creating.

For everyone, I would say that one must plan to be in Kolkata during Durga Puja and live the life of a Bengali for whom the basis of life is the hope that Maa gives everyone here-

Pore Boschor Abaar Hobe!

You may want to read

Five Reasons I Enjoy Durga Puja in Kolkata


A Non-Bong in Kolkata – Durga Puja Culture

This Durga Pujo, 19 bloggers will bring out different facets of Durga Pujo as we share our journey from various parts of the country. You can follow the hashtag #bloggersdurgapujo on FB/Twitter/Instagram and stay updated on every post, picture, video that we share. Please show us some love in the form of likes, comments and shares as we take you on a memorable ride.

List of Participating Bloggers

Dr. Amrita Basu (Misra):

Anupriya Gupta: https:////www.mommytincture

Esha Chakraborty:

Indrani Ghose:

Kapila Rattan Bhowmik:

Dr. Kuheli Bhattacharya:

Moumita Sen:

Nehal Roy:

Paromita Biswas:

Rahul Basu:

Sayanti Mahapatra:

Shalini Magdel Das:

Shamik Byabartta:

Sharmishtha S Ghosh:

Shruti Dugar:

Siya Bose:

Sonali Chauhan:

Sonia Chatterjee:

Soumosri and Utsab

Vasundhara Sarkar:

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Shruti Dugar October 16, 2018 at 8:18 am

Wow! Definitely one of the best post about DurgaPujo I have read till now. Everytime it was only about food or fashion. Writing from a different perspective like the initiation of the pandal and choosing was something I wanted to write this time. I could totally relate to it! Also, I looove your bio! All the best for your blogging journey! 🙂

Sonia Chatterjee October 16, 2018 at 8:29 am

I really like the way you have brought out the lesser appreciated facets of pujo. Very well written.

Harry October 16, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Wish to attend Durga Pooja festival!!!

Indrani October 18, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Agree! Bengali or non Bengali everyone should experience the Durga Pujo of Kolkata at least once. I hope to make up for this some day soon.Lovely post.

Ms Arora October 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

I could inagine the beauty of this festival . I have never attended but love to do dandiya there…#journeysays

Paresh Godhwani October 21, 2018 at 10:44 pm

This is like cracked version durga pooja. You brought in almost all the facets of the festival in this post. It was interesting to know something about the festival which I have witnessed only in movies and on TV.

Sudip Saha October 22, 2018 at 10:36 am

For us… Durga Pujo is not only a festival but an emotion.


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