Antiquity and The Beginning of Durga Puja Festival

Durga Puja

Durga Puja is an annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the Hindu goddess Durga and is also celebrated because of Durga’s victory over Mahishasur.

It is traditionally celebrated in the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, and the country of Bangladesh. The festival is observed in the Indian calendar month of Ashwin.

Durga puja is an old tradition of Hinduism, though its exact origins are unclear. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest that royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga puja festivities since at least the 16th-century.

Evolution of the ‘Pratima’ and the ‘Pandal’

The traditional icon of the goddess worshiped during the Durga Puja is in line with the iconography delineated in the scriptures. In Durga, the Gods bestowed their powers to co-create a beautiful goddess with ten arms, each carrying their most lethal weapon.

The tableau of Durga also features her four children—Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. Traditional clay image of Durga, or pratima, made of clay with all five gods and goddesses under one structure is known as ‘ek-chala’ (‘ek’ = one, ‘chala’ = cover).

The traditional clay image of Durga (pratima) takes the centre stage along with her four children – Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The pratima is embellished with the white sholar saaj and even gold and silver jewellery in some pujas.

Shola is used abundantly to make decorations during this time. These decorations and ornaments are called Sholar Saaj, which refers to the ornamentation of Goddess Durga.

“Daker Saaj” was started by the Shobhabazar royal family, where Britishers used to visit for Durga Puja. It incorporated the use of silver in the decorations in the form of foils, plates, ornaments etc. Every year more than 500 plates used to come by post from Paris and then from Germany.

Festive Food Of Durga Puja

Kolkata is a foodie-haven, festival season or not. So one can imagine just how hype-worthy Durga Puja culinary indulgences are. All sorts of traditional mishti (sweets) and street snacks are prepared and consumed like there’s no tomorrow. From street food staples such as phuchkas, or Bengali pani puris to mishit doi. There’s way too much to be eaten during festival season.

To experience the best of Kolkata’s festive culinary scene, hit up one of the city’s historic sweet shops. Balaram Mullick and Radharam Mullick, one of the city’s oldest mishti makers is always a fantastic option. If you’re looking to feast on a wide range of sandesh, rasgullas and other traditional treats.

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