Durga Puja is a time to celebrate with near and dear ones; soak in the festive atmosphere; enjoy the glitz and glamour of the themed pandals and beautiful idols. The rituals associated with Pujo are important of course, but a local would have seen them too many times and thus would find nothing out of the ordinary. However, for a visitor, the various religious rituals and functions are something unique. Durga Puja Is an Indian festival depicting Feminine power, fashion and beauty.
A visitor would be mesmerised by the various rituals but not know of the name or why they are being performed. So here we tell you everything there is to know about West Bengal’s heritage – Durga Puja.
History And Tradition Behind Pujo
The vivacious festival of Durga Puja resonates with the devotional fervour of the devotees of the Mother Goddess as it celebrates the Shakti (cosmic energy) in its various divine forms. Although it is indeed a significant Hindu religious festival, but it also marks a wonderful opportunity for people of various cultures to intermingle with each other. One can see the rich culture and tradition of India, especially West Bengal, blossom in the ten-day long celebrations of Durga Puja. The major extravagant and ostentatious festivities begin on the last six days of the ten-day long celebrations. The ten-armed divine goddess, riding a lion, is worshiped with great fervour and zeal by Hindus, especially by Bengalis, across the globe.
The first grand worship of Goddess Durga in recorded history is said to have been celebrated in the late 1500s. Folklores say the landlords, or zamindar, of Dinajpur and Malda initiated the first Durga Puja in Bengal. According to another source, Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur or Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya organized the first Sharadiya or Autumn Durga Puja in Bengal in c. 1606.
The first grand worship of Goddess Durga in recorded history is said to have been celebrated in the late 1500s. Folklores say the landlords, or zamindar, of Dinajpur and Malda initiated the first Durga Puja in Bengal
The origin of the community puja can be credited to the twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal, who collaborated and collected contributions from local residents to conduct the first community puja called the ‘baro-yaari’ puja, or the ‘twelve-pal’ puja, in 1790. The baro-yaari puja was brought to Kolkata in 1832 by Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar, who performed the Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Murshidabad from 1824 to 1831.
“The baro-yaari puja gave way to the sarbajanin or community puja in 1910, when the Sanatan Dharmot sahini Sabha organized the first truly community puja in Baghbazar in Kolkata with full public contribution, public control, and public participation. Now the dominant mode of Bengali Durga Puja is the ‘public’ version’.
The Delicious And Colourful Madness Of Pujo
Kolkata ‘sarbojanin’ pujas are renowned for their creative themes and exquisite skills. Several months prior to the puja, committees organizing the puja decide on a particular theme and the elements related to the theme are incorporated into the pandals and even into the idols. Sometimes themes are created to give a particular regional reflection to the pandal and the idol. Popular ones are the Rajasthani themes, Meghalaya or Manipuri themes, Nagaland themes creating a reflection of the lifestyle and festival of that particular region and land. Sometimes the themes are also simple like a famous Durga temple or just a reflection of village life with similar idol or pandals artistically decorated with bamboo leaves, match sticks, glass pieces and even with biscuits and lozenges. Other popular themes are ancient civilizations like the Incas or Egyptians and contemporary subjects like Harry Potter castle and RMS Titanic and many more.
TV and Radio channels telecast each and every detail of the Puja celebration. Popular TV even organizes puja special episodes to telecast live shows in front of a renowned puja pandal.
During the days of puja women prepare puja special delicacies and present before the Goddess and then share them with friends and relatives. Rasgulla, Misti Doi (sweet curd), Payasam are the popular sweet items. The famous Puja Bhog (Prasad) items are the Khichri, Alur Dom, Luchi, Labra are distributed among the devotees after being offered to the Goddess.
The Style And Attire For Durga Puja – The Indian Festival Of Feminine Power, Fashion And Beauty
The traditional outfits worn during the period of Durga Puja, makes each and every person a showstopper. On this day men and women are dressed in Pure Indian costumes, which are ethnically created precisely suiting the occasion. Beautifully embroidered and zari work saree and ethnically soaked Kurta Pyjamas are donned by men and women of all ages.
Different shades, colors, and textures of saris are woven especially for this festival. The sari fabrics range from silk, Bengali tant cotton saris to exotic and vibrant Georgette sarees that are aesthetically glamorized with beads, sequins, Resham and zari. The most popular and hot selling colors during this festival are radiant shades of maroon, gold, teal, mustard yellow, red, and orange. The accessories worn on these days range from exotic gold jewellery to innovative Kundan and pearl ornament sets which enhance the appearance even more.
Here are some wonderful attires for women during Durga Puja:
- Laal Paar Sari- This traditional red and white Bengali saree is counted among the most important outfits to be worn on the auspicious occasion of Durga Puja. Wearing accessories like gold jhumkas, heavy necklaces paired with shankha bangles is best suited for the festival. Don’t forget to don the quintessential big red bindi and smoky eye make-up for the complete Bengali look.
- Tussar Silk Sari- Tussar silk saree is the next option to consider while shopping for Durga Puja. The saree is not only comfortable but also looks elegant. Go for tussar silk saree with heavy embroidery and eye-catching shades like bold red, purple, dark blue, peach, or maybe cream.
- Anarkali Suits- For many of us, it is a daunting task to keep the saree in place while hopping from pandal to pandal. Rather being uncomfortable all the time, it is always better to go for attires which are comfortable and easy to carry. The all-time favorite anarkalis are not only girly but stylish as well. Complete your elegant festival look with polka or Kundan jewelry and high heels.
- Palazzo Suits- Palazzo suits have become a famous clothing item among the younger generation. They are stylish and also very comfortable to wear while enjoying the festivities. Go for long slit kurtis, sheer fabrics or asymmetrical hems and pair them up with matching palazzos. With minimal makeup and jewellery, and your hair tied up, you are all set to pay your tributes to Durga Maa.
- Fusion Sari – Give a new avatar to your traditional sarees with dramatic drapes. Select a quirky and stylish saree drape such as dhoti style drape, wavy drape, tulip drape, saree with a crop top, and knot saree drape. Replace and restyle petticoat to leggings, flared pants, elephant pants or palazzo pants for a whole new Indo-western look. Compliment your attire with statement neckpieces, wide belts, a couple of bangles, danglers and high heels. Switch your high heels to traditional jootis. In the end, go for smokey eyes and piled-up hairstyle to rock the puja night.
- Fun Printed Saris – You can consider these as an option this puja season as they are a trend nowadays. They are not only modern but easily affordable. Try a combination of bold colors with quirky prints with statement jewellery like large earrings, thick bangles, and a chunky necklace.
We all know how women outfit choices are extensive. Here we have a couple of styles for men as well:
- Khadi Kurta- Khadi kurta is the traditional handloom kurta. It undoubtedly looks good on men. Gone are the days when khadi kurtas were only available in pale colors, now you may get to see bright colored khadi kurtas. You may go for one this puja season!
- Block Printed Kurta- Block prints are very popular among women and men. Traditionally, motif printing was done on a cotton base but now they have gathered attention in the fashion world. They are available in bright colored kurtas.
- Embroidered Kurta- Earlier, embroidered kurta patterns were around the neckline and the cuffs. Now, modifications have been done to this form of kurtas with embroidery done all over the kurta. They look bright and make a man stand out in the pandal.
- Jamindar Pattern Kurta- Earlier, Bengali zamindars wore jamindar pattern with a string attached at the side of the chest. This attire looked very much similar to Gujarati Garba dance attires. Complement this attire with traditionally pleated Bengali dhoti.
- Tussar Silk Kurta- Tussar silk is a traditional form of Bengal fabric. This fabric has been transformed from plain beige color to different bright colors. It looks very trendy and makes young men look handsome!
- Chikankari Kurta- Chikankari is a traditionally Lucknow style embroidery on kurtas. It is done with white thread on a light cotton fabric. It is not only easy to carry but also looks very classy. These kurtas come in pastel shades and can be worn as a day wear for puja.
Scenario Of Pujo As Of Today
Although years have glided by, this festival has retained its ethnicity among every passing generation. Even today, this festival is traditionally split in 5 enjoyable days. Each day has its own set of customs, which are ritualistically followed. Entertainment, preparations as well as the spirit of bonding is at its peak during this occasion. People enjoy the very famous ‘pandal-hopping’ as they get to witness creative styles and patterns of different built structures. Even today, this festival sets aside all professional schedules apart, by creating some quality time to be spent with family and friends.
From The IKF Desk On Durga Puja – The Indian Festival Of Feminine Power , Fashion And Beauty
Durga Puja is just around the corner, and if you’re sitting in an office hundreds of miles away from home as you’re reading this, ‘pujo-centric’ ads and videos on social media can be your only source of respite. Most of the videos that are available in abundance on any social media platform revolves around the same themes – the purpose is the same, to trigger a sense of nostalgia and to urge Bengalis living away from the city to come back. You see Bengalis performing dhunuchinachh (Dhunuchi Dance is a kind of dance form that involves an incense burner used during aarti), impeccably dressed men and women running about in old Kolkata heritage houses, Kumortuli photo shoots (traditional quarter for potters and idol makers in the city) and you have your perfect pujo video. But ask any Bengali who strongly believes in the festival and its tradition, its much more than that! If you’re reading this and are a true Bengali, what do you think?