Photographer's Note

Durga Puja – for Bengalis this is much more than a festival. It is at this time that art, creativity & culture are whipped up to their frenzied & vibrant best, complimenting the religious fervour this festival generates.

Goddess Durga is worshipped as Ma or mother. She’s is accompanied by her four children- daughters Saraswati & Lakshmi and sons Ganesh & Kartik, as she comes down to her parental abode on earth, during the 10 days of the Durga Puja. The community celebration of Duga Puja lasts for 6 days rather than the entire 10 day period. Durga is worshipped as Mahishasuramardini or the slayer of demon Mahishasura, who disguised in the form of a buffalo (In Bengali – buffalo = Mahish, asura = demon) had terrorized the Gods. For the community Pujas, Ma Durga is housed inside a temporary abode called the Pandal during the days of the Durga Puja.

Durga Puja is celebrated more as a community festival, with each locality performing their own.

The Pandal – this is the temporary abode of Ma Durga. But in reality it is much more than that. Once upon a time they were made of simple bamboo scaffolding with metres of cloth draped around, but today this cannot be more different. The Pandal is built is all conceivable forms and structures…replicas of famous temples, parliament houses, mansions, forts…you name it and it’s there. The materials used in construction of these pandals are no longer the simple bamboo and cloth, but plywood, plaster, dried leaves, thermocol (packing materials) just to name a few. So intricate and elaborate are these structures that it is indeed sometimes difficult to figure out the Pandals and the real things.

This is a pandal in South Kolkata. Does it look like one? This is modelled like a traditional house in North Kolkata. The pandals are the meeting place of the people in the locality. The elderly folk, especially the women (who you see here) make the pandal their second home.

Check the workshop and you would understand what I mean. It's difficult to differentiate between the actual building & the pandal.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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