A magical celebration that marks the commemoration to Goddess Durga happens largely in the eastern part of the country. An abiding love for the superior Goddess who slayed demons and brought peace to earth, makes this one of the most passionately celebrated festivals in India. Months running up to the festival are reserved for preparation of large mud idols of the Goddess. Closer to the actual days of celebration, large pandals (tented showcase) are set up in different parts of the city. The leading highlight is the large statue of the Goddess, but with it come the grand themes for the décor. Often jaw droppingly beautiful, but sometimes plan ludicrous, these attract thousands of people. Pandal-hopping is a term that one often hears during the festival.
Spiritual tenor apart, this is the time for music, dance and food – hallmarks of any Indian festival. Specific days are allocated for the traditional dances done by married women in front of the Goddess. Dressed in white and red saris, the women swirl, balancing a pot of smoky myrrh. Food dominates the festival for others, when typical Bengali sweets and savouries are prepared in heaps. The warmth and sparkle of the days morph into high-octane emotions, when the Goddess ‘returns’ to her home at the end of the period. Tears accompany parades, which take the idol to rivers and lakes to submerge the Goddess as a symbolic ‘goodbye.’
Best Cities: Kolkata, Varanasi, parts of Assam, New Delhi
Month: September -October