Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pride of Punjab : Amritsar

After coming back from a long tour of Kumaon in the summers, I was not thinking of any other trip during the Pujas as I also had in the hindsight the tour with my friends during the Christmas week. However, just over a month after we came back from Kumaon, Runa and Abhishek summoned me to plan something after the Puja holidays. We did a frantic search for finalizing the places to visit taking help from the different state tourism websites and Bhraman Sangi, but had to discard most of the choices due to time constraint. At last we zeroed in on Amritsar and planned to go to Himachal from there on our return way. Accordingly we booked tickets for the Kolkata - Amritsar Super Express.

This was the first time I boarded any train from the Kolkata station (located near Belgachhia) and though the train looked decent enough, it ran late by a few hours from the very start. As a result, we reached Amritsar late in the evening as opposed to early evening, which was the original schedule of the train and had to abandon the plan to visit the Golden Temple that evening.

We had booked our hotel in Amritsar in advance, so we were spared the agony of searching for accommodation that late in the evening after a long journey. However, we had not booked any car for the tour as the travel agent in Kolkata, who had booked our hotels for the tour, was charging on a higher side for the conveyance. Our plan was to book a car on the spot and luckily we could do that from the hotel itself and that too at a much reasonable rate after a bit of bargaining.

After an uneventful night of profound sleep punctuated at times by the clamourous sounds coming from the kitchen of the hotel which was located not far from my room, we went to visit the Golden Temple, the first thing in the morning. The temple was situated not far from our hotel and within a few minutes, our car reached the temple complex. On the way, we came across a large gate structure known as the Gandhi Gate and a statue in front of it, which I believe is of the revolutionary Udham Singh who had assassinated Michael O'Dwyer.

The temple complex has a rectangular pathway surrounding the beautiful pool called Amrit Sarovar at the centre with large entrance gates on four sides. The name of the town is derived from the name of the pool or the holy tank and at the centre of the pool the main temple structure stands on a square platform and is connected by a long causeway.

The actual name of the temple is Hari Mandir Saheb, which is more popularly known as the Golden Temple. The boundary of the pool and the foundation of the construction of the temple were laid in late 16th century by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev. The guru’s followers settled down in the neighbourhood and a small town called Ramdaspur was founded which was later renamed as Amritsar. I read somewhere about the association of the place with the epic Ramayana and the legend goes that Lord Rama’s twin sons were taught at this place. I had even come across another story, which says that Emperor Akbar granted the land for the construction of the temple and the Muslim Pir Mian Mir of Lahore laid the foundation stone. However, I did not find many supporting records elsewhere. It is also said that the town flourished during the rule of the first Sikh Maharaja, Ranjit Singh. The temple was destroyed by Afghan invaders in mid 18th century and rebuilt with the offerings collected by the Khalsa. Sardar Jassa Singh re-laid the foundation of the temple in 1764.

After we kept our shoes at the free seva and entered the temple complex we roamed around the marble walkway encircling the temple and taking snaps. We moved past the “langarkhana” where one can take one’s meal buying appropriate tickets beforehand. The first thing one would notice here is the excessive cleanliness unlike most other temples and the service, be it at the place where we kept our shoes or where drinking water was offered to the thirsty devotees or the langarkhana where people were washing dishes in preparation for the large meal. I believe there is a culture there of social/religious service as many of the people providing service to the devotees did not seem to be employees of the Siromoni Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. I think I had even seen Navjyot Singh Sidhu (ex-cricketer and currently Member of Parliament from Amritsar) in some television programme to polish the shoes of devotees in front of the temple as part of his yearly service offering. In fact it was written somewhere that the Guru Arjan Dev cured the ailment of Wazir Shah, the then Governor of Lahore by making him perform “karsewa” through Baba Budha Ji. There is actually a tree in the complex beneath which Baba Budha Ji is believed to camp to perform the service of digging up the holy tank. His original name was Bura but Guru Nanak named him Budha (the old one) because he was young in age yet old in wisdom. Baba Budha Ji was appointed the first Granthi (the holy Granth reciter) and he performed all Guruship installation ceremonies from Guru Angad to Guru Hargobind.

Just before entering the main temple complex, one walks through a narrow marble channel with water running through it cleansing the devotee’s feet and perhaps soul before one enters the sanctum sanctorum. Unlike most of the temples here one needs to descend as the holy shrine is built a few steps below the level of the adjacent area.

The causeway on the western side of the pool, which leads to the temple, is bordered with a marble balustrade and decorated with lamps on slightly taller marble columns and there is an archway with a huge chandelier. The other incredible thing was that there were fans scattered on the entire stretch of the causeway to make the devotees, queued up, comfortable in the heat.

Soon we reached the Hari Mandir. The lower part of the exquisitely beautiful temple is made of white marble and the upper part covered with plates of gilded copper giving it a golden look. Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the temple and hence I could not capture the astounding splendor of the interiors. The guards in blue robes were actually politely requesting not to take pictures inside the temple, but their physique and spears ensured that nobody defy the rule. In the interior, on the ground floor is placed Guru Granth Sahib (holy book of the Sikhs) under a gorgeous canopy studded with jewels. The first floor is a small pavilion known as Shish Mahal is ornamented with mirrors of different shapes and sizes and has an open square at the centre of the floor where from one can view the ground floor. Above is another smaller square pavilion decorated with magnificent murals mostly depicting floral designs. The golden domes of varying sizes located at what appeared to be the terrace of the temple along with golden kiosks at the corners have a wonderful effect.

As we were moving out of the temple, I noticed that one person was periodically sweeping away the money offered to the Granth Sahib by the devotees with a broom in to a collection box. It seemed a comical but effective measure.

At the other end of the causeway was situated the Akal Takht, or the eternal throne of the Granth Sahib. It represents the primary seat for Sikh religious authority and political assembly. It may issue decrees clarifying Sikh doctrine and may summon and order penance on persons charged with violating religious discipline. There are four other “takhts” located at various places but the Akal Takht enjoys a special veneration. It is here where the Granth Sahib is kept during the night. Traditionally Sikh warriors seek blessings here before they go to war. It is also here that the followers of Bhindranwale took refuge during Operation Bluestar.

A group of Sikh men were performing “bhajans” and one of them was reciting some religious sermons in front of the Akal Takht on top of a gorgeously crafted marble floor.

After coming out of the Golden temple, we visited the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial which is only a few yards away.

At this very place hundreds of innocent, unarmed and defenseless Indians were massacred on 13th April, 1919 as the British Raj police open fired at the orders of Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer. A number of things built up the prelude of the massacre including the revolutionary attacks on the British Raj and protests against the Rowlatt Act amongst others. On the ill-fated day (which was also the festival day of “Baisakhi”), thousands gathered in the Jallianwala Bagh which was then the property of the family of Sardar Himmat Singh, who worked in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. An hour after the meeting started, General Dyer marched in with his force and deployed his rifle men near the entrance and without warning or ordering the crowd to disperse, open fired. The firing continued for 20 minutes and 1650 round of ammunition were fired. The official account states 379 were killed and 1200 wounded, however the casualty number quoted by Indian National Congress was much higher. A commission of inquiry known as the Hunter Commission was set up later by Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, but General Dyer was not awarded any penal action for his role and was merely relieved of his command. A nationwide protest broke out which was exemplified by Rabindranath Tagore’s renunciation of his British Knighthood. On 13th March, 1940, Udham Singh, an Indian revolutionary who witnessed the massacre with his own eyes shot and killed Sir Michael O’Dwyer (at Caxton Hall in London) who was the British Lieutenant Governor of Punjab at the time of the massacre and who had approved Dyer’s action and was believed to be one of the conspirators behind the massacre.

The Jallianwala Bagh was later acquired by the nation and a memorial was built which was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 13th April, 1961.

The Amar Jyoti or the eternal flame was built to commemorate those who lost their lives in the massacre.

A small pyramid like structure is built to indicate the place from where people were fired at.

Even the bullet marks on the walls are preserved and there is a martyr’s well where people jumped off. Some of the surrounding buildings also are probably of the same bygone time.

The place also maintains a visitor’s facilitation centre where various news clippings of the time and some pictures of the dead and wounded victims of the massacre are kept to remind the public at large the magnitude and the cruelty of the brutal massacre. It was appalling to see at the pictures of the indiscriminate public whipping of the Indians and people on their hands and knees to cross the length of a street as a result of the crawling order, which was posted even after the massacre under the auspices of the martial law that was imposed on Amritsar and adjoining areas by O’Dwyer and granted by Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford.

After lunch, we headed towards the Wagah Border which is only 28 kilometres away from Amritsar. At the Wagah border, the security forces of India and Pakistan, namely the Border Scurity Force and the Pakistan Rangers respectively, follow the “lowering of flags” ceremony, every evening. On the way to Wagah, we passed by the colossal Khalsa College, the Guru Nanak Dev University and suddenly after crossing an army cantonment area, a signboard indicated that we are only 23 kilometres away from Lahore. We reached the border a good couple of hours before the event as our driver warned us of the huge crowd presence. There were separate queues for men and women and even separate sitting arrangements for the two. The women’s part of the stadium was nearer to the gates of the border and it was very difficult to see the proceedings from the men's gallery. To add to it was the unorganized conduct of the visitors and everyone was standing up now and then even though the army personnel were repeatedly requesting them to be seated. Quite surprisingly the Pakistani lot seemed to be much more ordered from this side of the border. The reason may be that they were less in number and easier to control. However, I must say that the security men of our side did not put up a true effort to discipline the visitors at our end and as a result there was cacophony and absolute chaos. Rishi was feeling a bit claustrophobic and we were somewhat ruing our decision to come here. But then of course Wagah had always been on our itinerary of Amrisar.

To cheer up our spirit I tried to look at the funnier side of the events rather than being skeptic. The security men were playing patriotic songs starting from Lata Mangeshkar’s “Ae mere watan ke logon” to the contemporary “Chak De” and even the Oscar winning “Jai Ho”. Manoj Kumar could have lived only on the royalty of the songs from his films going by their popularity and the number of times they were played at the Wagah, such as the melodious Mahendra Kapoor number “Mere desh ki dharti” from the film Upkar. Not sure how the “Koi kahe” track from the film Dil Chahta Hai found its way through all those patriotic numbers. The songs were cheered by the public in a huge way with people including the senior citizens shaking their legs with the tunes and throwing open their arms at the end of each stanza.

Children and even their mothers were running to and fro with the national flag and after some time the open space in front of the gallery took almost the shape of a dance floor for them.

A BSF man in a white shirt was orchestrating the events and in between the songs he was urging the public to shout slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Bande Mataram”. There were similar slogans heard from the other side of the border as well and the man in the white shirt was asking us to shout our slogans in a higher pitch than the Pakistanis.

After all this adrenaline rushing song and dance and shouting, the real event started just before sunset. The soldiers on either side paraded towards their respective border gates and eventually the gates were opened and the flags were lowered and then folded and then the soldiers shook hands and retreated and the gates were again closed.

After the Wagah visit we were all so exhausted that we headed straight to the hotel. However, later on in the evening Runa and I made a short visit to the Golden Temple to catch a glimpse of it under the effects of light, while Abhishek and Rishi stayed back at the hotel. It was a spectacular sight to behold the temple actually gleaming with golden radiance in contrast to the dark night surroundings and I would have missed an extravagant experience had I not made the visit.

Our stay at Amritsar had come to an end and we were readying ourselves for our Himachal visit which would start the next day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kolkata Kaleidoscope : Durga Puja

Bengal had been waiting for the Durga Puja, its most cherished festival, for some time. Though the weather conditions have changed much over the years resulting in changes in the characteristics of “Sharat” (autumn) from what we have read in the books and we do not really see much “kaash” flowers in the city, but somehow one can sense a change in the air when the Pujas are approaching and suddenly before anyone realizes, Mahalaya is there, knocking on the doors.

Durga Puja is the most celebrated festival of Bengal that takes place for five days in autumn. The mythology is that when the demon Mahishasura let loose a reign of terror and the gods were unable to overpower him, they prayed in unison and the energy emanated from their prayers created goddess Durga, who had supreme powers and who was entrusted with the task of defeating the demon army of Mahishasura. This has been portrayed in details in the Markendya Purana. The other myth (or should I say history) is that originally Durga Puja was performed in spring but Rama worshipped Durga in autumn before engaging in a war with Ravana (this is known as “Akaal Bodhon”) and from then the Pujas are carried out in autumn.

The artisans portray the Mahishasuramardini image of Durga in the idols they make where the goddess (sitting on a lion and with ten weapons in her ten hands) is seen to subjugate the demon Mahishasura who has come out of the trunk of a decapitated buffalo.

The goddess, who is revered as a mother and referred to as Ma Durga, is also seen with her children (Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik) by her side. According to some other purana, she is perceived as Uma, the wife of Lord Shiva. In Bengal, this representation of her is more popular over her warrior aspect and the five days of Durga Puja are believed to be the time when Ma Durga, along with her children, makes a visit to her paternal home every year.

Initially, Durga Puja was carried out in the homes of the wealthy and the affluent. But later on twelve “brahmins“ or noble men got together and performed a (“barowari”) Puja for the masses (“sarbojanin”) and the money was collected in the form of subscription. This has become the trend over the years.

Shashti was the only working day for me during the Pujas. Saptami and Ashtami were holidays and Navami and Dashami fell on weekends. Even on Shahsti, the mood at the office was far from doing serious work. People were contemplating to leave early either to pursue their own Puja plans or to avoid the mad Puja traffic. I had a lunch invitation myself at Santanu’s place near the airport and left office accordingly. The only worry was how to reach home in the evening. The Metro was one option, but then for the last few days I had been reading all sorts of news regarding the malfunctions of the Metro due to the Puja rush and may be compounded by the inauguration of so many new stations without investing in new rail rakes. Thankfully, Saibal gave me a lift in his car up to Rashbehari crossing and surprisingly it did not take us much long time like the previous evening. May be that was because, we took the Park Circus connector and not the Kasba one from the EM Bypass.

In between Rashbehari crossing and my home some distinguished Pujas take place. But anticipating they would be much crowded, I took the Pratapaditya Road where some not so famous but decent enough Pujas are located. The first one on the way was the Trikon Park which built a lovely “pandal” in the shape of a temple with marble floors and art work.

As I was walking further down, I noticed a sign on the walls of an old worn out building declaring it as a dangerous one and cautioning the people not to touch it. These kinds of notices are usually put up by the Corporation so at first I did not heed much attention to it. But after a while it looked strange, as I did not remember any such building being there and I came back to the place. Then only I realized that it was actually a Puja “pandal” that had been designed like an old “zamindar” house (the Babubagan concept from the previous year) with the interiors decorated with old world furnitures and gramophones, oil paintings and heads of stuffed hunted down animals which once adorned the supposedly declining “zamindari”. This Puja called the Chatuskon Park was a discovery this year and actually I saw long queues at its gates on the following days.

Pratapaditya Road Trikon Park

Pratapaditya Road Chatushkon Park - Sharad Sammilani

After visiting these two Pujas, I gathered some courage to try and see the more renowned ones. First on list was Mudiyali Club. It usually follows traditional theme and this time round it was not anything different. The idols of the deities or “pratima” as we say is “ekchala” i.e. with a semi-elliptical backdrop behind the images. The “pandal” or the makeshift building resembled a grand golden temple. After Mudiyali, it was the turn of Shibmandir, which is known for its innovative themes. This time the theme was something like Mother Nature, I guess. The interiors were like a forest and the “pandal” itself was like the trunk of a tree. Unfortunately, I could not take any good snap as it was much crowded. When one exits from the rear end of Shibmandir, one can make a quick visit to Sebak Sangha. This Puja is located where the road past the Menoka Cinema meets the Lake Avenue. Since my school was nearby, I have seen this Puja for many years. The “pratima” made by Mohanbasi Rudrapal is its main attraction.

Sebak Sangha

Very near to my home, a nice and small Puja takes place at someone’s residence in the Charu Avenue. After resting for a while on the couches there I went to see the Nabapally Sangha Puja before returning home. This was a renowned Puja not many years ago and won some prizes as well when I was young, but has slowly faded into oblivion probably due to lack of patronage.

Charu Avenue - Barir Puja

Nabapalli Sangha

On Saptami Ma and I ventured to see Pujas from North Calcutta in our new car. We took the Central Avenue and hoped to see the Md. Ali Park Puja. As far I could remember, the last time I saw that particular Puja was more than fifteen years back. However, it proved to be difficult to park nearby and in our quest of finding a suitable parking space, we turned left into MG Road and ultimately reached Rabindra Sarani. We let go Md. Ali Park and made our first stop at Rabindra Kanan, a Puja that takes place in a park off the Rabindra Sarani.

Rabindra Kanan

Continuing on Rabindra Sarani, we made our next stop near Ahiritola. Since we parked at some distance, we first had a look into the BK Pal Park Puja before proceeding to Ahiritola. The concept over there was of an underwater world with fishes and corals inside the “pandal” and the outside was like boats ferrying on the surface of the water.

Ahiritola Sarbajanin

Next on cards was Kumartuli. I had come to Kumartuli a week earlier to see the idols in making. Now was the time to see the finished product. The theme there was “kaal-chakra” with different sections comprising images of Rama and Krishna etc. The idol of Durga was unique with a Vasuki like snake behind her and many images resembling mime artists playing the part of Mahishasura.

Kumartuli Park

I had to stop by Chhotomasi’s home to hand her over some papers related to her Mumbai trip and before going to her house we visited the Bagbazar Sarbajanin Puja. This was again a traditional Puja with Durga in “daker-saaj”. The imposing chandelier was another attraction.

Bagbazar Sarbajanin

The stay at Chhotomasi’s place was a brief one as she was getting ready for the flight to catch. She advised to make a stop by Hatibagan on our way back. Here, Durga did not have any weapon and the demon Mahishasura was asking for mercy with his hands folded instead of being engaged in a war with Durga.


Since we planned to take the Bypass route on our way back home, we decided to make a visit to Telengabagan. It is one of the most sought after Pujas nowadays. The idol of Durga had clay like finish and standed on a large Shivalinga. The images of her children were carved out near her feet and one had to make a round trip to see them all. The “pandal” was also built such that there was no wall around the deity and one could do a “pradakkhin” around it.


The journey home was uneventful except for the fact that we could not locate our car and driver for quite some time after we came out of Telengabagan. I reached home in the late afternoon, had a very late lunch and I took a quick nap before going out again in the evening with Subhadip who had come down to Kolkata from Lucknow to celebrate Pujas before his trimester exams.

Initially we planned to meet near Deshapriya Park, but the cab I took could not go that far since there was a no entry sign on Lake Road and I was coming from the Southern Avenue end. I got down there and went to visit Samajsebi Sangha and asked Subhadip to meet me there. The “pandal” was decorated with dolls made from clothes. A few snaps later, I went to the other Puja which is located nearby – Ballygunge Cultural. The “dhakis” (drummers) were doing a special session when I reached there. In the mean time Subhadip reached Samaj Sebi and I had to go back there and again come to see Ballygunge Cultural. We heard that Vidya Balan inaugurated the Puja this time. Soon after, we crossed Rashbehari Avenue and went on to visit the Tridhara Sammilani Puja. This is the same order in which I visited these Pujas for the last couple of years and usually Tridhara Sammilani gives tough competition to the other two though they are more famous. However, this time I did not understand their concept. It was like this bluish grid backdrop that reminds one of laser shows and there were three large idols which hardly looked like images of Durga. The funny part is that when someone inquired about the theme of the Puja, one of the organizers gave him a booklet to read to understand the theme. This is one of the examples of the over indulgence of Puja themes in recent times when more often than not, no one understands what the theme is.

Samajsebi Sangha

Ballygunge Cultural

Tridhara Sammilani

We took the exit towards Hazra Road from Tridhara Sammilani to proceed towards our next destination, Maddox Square. Similar to previous year we took a wrong turn and took Manoharpukur Road to end up near the Hazra crossing end and again changed direction towards Sarat Bose Road. In between we stopped by Hazra Balak Sangha, Hazra 22 Pally and many other less known Pujas, the name I do not remember any more. Maddox Square “pratima” was again a traditional “ekchala” like the earlier years. The attraction of the Puja is its ambience and the quality of the crowd. Usually people select this Puja as the meeting place for friends. The large ground helps a lot to this cause. But for the past few years it had been raining during the Pujas and this time also I noticed patches of water and mud here and there. However, that did not restrict the youngsters from sitting down on newspapers on the very ground. Even there were newspapers available for sale for sitting purpose. It seemed that nowadays people meet here for “adda” more due to the fact that it is fashionable rather than to enjoy the charm it once provided. As a result all and sundry meet up here since everyone wants to be cool, and as a result the sophistication of the place is lost in the process.

Maddox Square

From Maddox Square we took a cab to Sadananda Road to make an attempt to see the Badamtala Ashar Sangha Puja. This Puja again has gained a lot eminence is the last few years. I think the last time I could see this particular Puja was back when I was in school. Lately it is so crowded that I usually prefer to avoid. Fortunately for us, this time round, the crowd was not so much. The cabbie who took us there had no knowledge of the roads and I had to guide him throughout. At least I am not the only person who can not remember most of the roads. The most fascinating part of Ashar Sangha was that they have painted and decorated the surrounding buildings as well as the nearby trees and even lamp posts with colourful festoons. It took a while before we realized that those are real buildings with people living in.

Just beside Ashar Sangha, there is another well-known Puja called 66 Pally. This year they had used innumerous paper lamps and colourful umbrellas hanging upside down with lights inside that resulted in a striking effect. The other atypical thing about this Puja was that Mahishasura was on the right side of Durga and the Lion on the left side. Usually it is the other way round.

Badamtala Ashaar Sangha

66 Pally

On my return way, I again visited or rather accompanied Subhadip to Mudiyali and Shibmandir. Any attempt to take any photo was again futile, more because of the overzealous crowd management of the volunteers at those places rather than the actual crowd rush.

On Ashtami I go and offer “anjali” or prayers at the Balaram Bose Ghat Puja near Ma’s ancestral home. This claims to be the oldest “barowari” Puja in Kolkata and this was its 101st year. Starting from its centenary year, it has started to build a big gate at the front and other adornments on the walls. Earlier, it used to be a simple and placid affair.

After the “anjali” and a quick visit to the Avaya Mandir, which is adjacent to the Puja and houses a permanent idol of Durga, we dashed off to visit a few other renowned Pujas of Bhowanipore. Of course we did not forget to buy the customary “khasta kachuris” from “goopi’s”, a small confectionary shop on Balaram Bose Ghat Road. The Pujas we payed a visit to, were Harish Park, 68 Pally, Bakulbagan, Golmath and Abasar, in that order. On our way Ma and Boromasi showed me the ancestral house of Uttam Kumar on Girish Mukherjee Road. Thirty years after his death, he still remains the only superstar from Bengal. May be Prasenjit will catch up to him some day. Bakulbagan usually portrays obscure images of Durga, but this year it broke all earlier records. According to the billboards, the theme and idol had been conceptualized by Mamata Banerjee. May be she is trying to beat the chief minister on the cultural front as well.

Bhowanipore Adi Sanatani Dharmatsahini Sabha (Balaram Bose Ghat)

Avaya Mandir

Harish Park

68 Pally




From Bhowanipore we went to Ballygunge to pay a visit to Pishimani’s house. Pishemoshai was not keeping well for the last few days. On our way home we stopped by Adi Ballygunge and 21 Pally. I think the last time Ma took me to Adi Ballygunge was when I was a little boy. There were ethnic paintings on the walls of the “pandal” depicting scenes from the stories of Durga.

Adi Ballygunge

21 Pally

On Nabami, we decided to visit the remaining prominent Pujas in South Calcutta. We started off with Sanghasree near Kalighat. This was a famous Puja in the bygone days but lost its charm over the years probably because of lack of funds. This year however, the Puja was gorgeous. Different manifestations of Durga were depicted.


From there we went on to see the Deshapriya Park Puja. We entered from the Priya Cinema end which is generally reserved for VIPs and members but no one objected since it was during daytime.

Deshapriya Park

Next on list was the Singhee Park Puja. It had built its “pandal” as a replica of the Golden Temple of Amritsar. It was exciting as I was scheduled to visit the real temple during my vacation after the Pujas.

Singhee Park

Just opposite to Singhee Park is the illustrious Ekdalia Evergreen Puja which receives the patronage of trade union leader Subrata Mukherjee. By the way, he is again back in the Trinamool Congress from Congress. Not sure how many times he switched sides. The chandelier at Ekdalia is one of its great attractions apart from the electrical lighting. Since it was during the day, we could not enjoy the light works but the chandelier did not disappoint us.

Ekdalia Evergreen

Driving through Gariahat Road, we left our car near Babubagan. There was a huge traffic jam near Babubagan right in the afternoon and a queue as well at its gates. I think Durga and the others were depicted as tribal people. The “pandal” however was made of circuit boards and computer key boards etc. So I am not very sure about the correlation of the two.


Ma and I wandered around for some time before we could locate the Selimpur Pally Puja. It used intermingled pieces of woods as the “pandal”. If I remember correctly it was according to some sort of art work names “sajhi”. I was wondering how they would protect the “pratima” during the rains.

Selimpur Pally

We crossed Gariahat Road and went to see the Jodhpur Park Puja. The “pandal” was built with colourful blocks similar to what kids play with.

Jodhpur Park

Since we would board the car again from Prince Anwar Shah Road, we made a brief stop at the Taltala EDF Ground Puja which is named as Pallimangal Samiti. The theme was the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. Imitations of his paintings adorned the walls of the “pandal”. There was a statue of him at the front and the “pandal” itself was a replica of one his houses at Shantiniketan (Shyamali – if I remember correctly).

Pallimangal Samiti (Taltala EDF)

It proved to be too much walking for Ma from Babubagan to EDF, as her knees gave away to the arthritic pain. Thankfully she got enough rest at Runa’s house which was our next destination. The housing society that Runa stays at started its own Durga Puja from this year and even won some prizes and recognitions. Here also the theme was Rabindranath or specifically his “Sahaj Path”. We had our lunch there and accompanied Runa and Rishi to the Mudiyali and Shibmandir Pujas. This was the third time I visited these couple of Pujas and finally I could take some snaps.

Runa's Housing Soceity

Mudiyali Club


At last I visited the Puja which takes place in the “para” or neighbourhood just beside our house.

Shanti Pally

Bijoya Dashami was the last day of the five days of Durga Puja. I had no plans for that day and spent the entire day at home and helped myself with sweets ignoring all the fears of weight I was putting up in the process. The mood around was pensive and that of melancholy since it is believed that Ma Durga returns to her husband’s home from her paternal home on this day. This day also marks the beginning of the wait for next year’s Durga Puja. Hope it will be as joyous and blissful as this year’s was.