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Monday, September 29th, 2003

Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Durga Puja

Kolkata prepares for festival

It's almost that time of year again — Durga Puja. In India, Durga Puja is celebrated like Christmas in the West: everybody wears new clothes; everybody gets a few days off work or school; and all the stores and markets are closed (including the banks).

This is this biggest religious and cultural festival in all Bengal, and the festivities last for almost a week. Throughout the suburbs of Kolkata and the villages, various puja committees decide on a theme and build elaborate temporary exhibits to the goddess Durga Devi.

The exhibit halls can span a whole city block, and are put together quickly — in a matter of days — using bamboo poles, ropes, plywood, jute cloth, sackcloth, water-based paints, and, of course, lots of colored lights.

There is a big temporary exhibit being erected on the other end of the kunda or pond in front of our Math. It looks like some of kind of African or elephant theme, or something...

After the festival, the entire exhibit is demolished, and life returns to normal — if such a thing is possible in Kolkata!

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