You may have gotten the impression from my last few posts that I disliked the Durga Puja festivities (what with all the noise and traffic) right outside my window here at the Sree Chaitanya Saraswata Krishnanushilana Sangha in Dum Dum Park, Kolkata.
Once you get over the shock of the ubiquitous loudspeakers, however, it is actually quite fun, I suppose because the music and lectures are from an ancient Indian cultural tradition (as opposed to an annoying boom box blaring a boogie beat) and the throngs participating in the festival are not raucous revelers, but devotees of Srimati Durga Devi.
Besides the temporary Durga Devi structure opposite our Math at the other end of the kunda, there are at least two more exhibits in the nearby Bangur Avenue. The whole street is closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians throng the streets and spend hours standing in long lines as they wait to see the exhibits, statues, and paintings.
It is astonishing how much time and energy is spent erecting these temporary temples and exhibits to Durga Devi, especially when you realize that they will all be demolished at the end of the five-day festival.
Also astounding is how elaborate and life-like the structures look, considering that the are built almost entirely out of bamboo poles tied with ropes, and jute or sackcloth. The better exhibits are featured nightly on the news channels and in the daily newspapers, and many businesses and stores sponsor competitions with lavish prizes for the winners.