The city of Kolkata is already preparing itself for the big festival coming up. Every Kolkatan is gearing up to celebrate each day of the Durga Puja in their own way. Shopping till they drop, is the status of every shopaholic. But how can be a puja good , if you do not go for pandal hopping ?
The pandals are decorated with great skills every year, each having a significant theme. Some pandals have the touch of the classic Bengali culture or sabekiyana OR they indulge in potraying the modernity of culture. The ‘happy’ competition between the North and South Pujas end with receiving of prizes from a wide number of media or sponsors.
The themes of the pandals surround around several themes, starting from legends of the Goddess Durga or scenes from Hindu epic texts. Nowadays, several pandals themes based of social causes with the sole motive to spread awareness. Day time is apt to see this pandals and its decorations, if one hates the Bong crowd. But if you are an ardent pandal hopper, then night time would be the best for you as the brightly lit pandals in hundreds of colours is quite a sight of its own in the evenings and at night.
While getting out of your homes, with the best attire, one must chalk out a proper plan on which are the pandals you plan to see. The 10 famous pandals which one must visit this year is given as follows:
Baghbazar Sarbojonin Durgotsab / Durga Puja, is one of the oldest Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata, having been in existence for over 90 years. It’s a relatively simple durga puja pandal which mainly emphasis on tradition and culture, but still it always attracts the crowds because of its strikingly beautiful idol of Goddess Durga.
Baghbazar Durga Puja every year celebrates its puja in its own unique way. It keeps its common theme of the ‘sabekiyana’ or Bengali culture every year. No doubt, this year it remains the same. It attracts huge amount of crowds on Dashami where women participate in sidur khela (playing and smearing other’s faces with vermillion).Photographers gather on that day to click beautiful images of young women smeared with vermilion on their faces before bidding goodbye to Goddess Durga.
2. College Square:
At the dawn of ‘’Dwitia’’ the day next to Mahalaya, the idol will be brought from the studio of the idol maker, this time Sanatan Rudra Pal, and shall be placed on the platform within the pandal complex. This time College Square Sarbajanin Durgotsab Committee shall be celebrating its 68th year.
Various social welfare programmes are under taken during the pre-puja days such as blood donation camps, distribution of clothes to poor children, donations to the public welfare organisations, grants to the patients fighting for their lives against fatal diseases etc.
At College Square is the “ Kumari Puja”, during which a young unmarried girl, being treated as goddess Durga herself, is worshipped.
3. Mohammad Ali Park:
One of the popular Durga Pujas of North Kolkata that one must visit is the Mohammad Ali Park Durga Puja that is held every year and showcases magnificent architecture. Since its inception the Mohammad Ali Park Durga Puja samity has tried to bring out several replicas of monuments – explored and unexplored – from all over the world… and diorama of ancient literature. The samity, even though it follows the changing trend of architecture and style, has preserved its age old culture and tradition, which reflects through the artistic work. The interior and exterior decoration of the Pandal that details the theme is always a treat to the eye. The venue further features a simple illumination but the entire park area decks up with dazzling and colorful lightings. The Mohammad Ali Durga Puja Samity has won several awards in different categories and hence it is also considered as one of the prestigious Durga Puja in Kolkata.
4. Santosh Mitra Square:
Santosh Mitra Square is one of the popular Sarbajanin Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata. This Durga Puja mandal was inaugurated 1936 and since then it has been holding Durga Puja every year.
It is one of the Top 10 Durga Puja Pandals in Kolkata and it is visited my millions of devotees during Durga Puja festival.
5. Suruchi Sangha:
‘Suruchir pujo dekhte hoy, ne hole pore afsos korte hoy’ (One must see Suruchi’s Durga Puja, else you would repent later). With this slogan, the puja of Suruchi attracts
thousands & thousands of spectators from all over India and abroad to enjoy this grand festival being attracted by its unique arts, culture, decoration, pandals, image etc.
This year’s theme is ‘Incarnations of Mother’. Inspired by the Tamil Nadu’s Chittirai festival, the central concept is universal motherhood. The pandal has touches of temple, architecture, dance forms of Tamil Nadu. They have put forward the social message of the ironical treatment of mother as a goddess and mother as a captivated household member. To mention specially, would be the ‘Akalbodhon’ by collaborating Ram and Ravan together.
Suruchi Sangha entertains visitors with a cultural extravaganza and outdoor display, themed on a different state of India each year. The Durga idols are modeled on how they look in each state. Although this puja pandal is more than 50 years old, it first found fame in 2003 when it won an award for the best decorated pandal. It won the award again in 2009. The artwork is exquisite.
The pandal has won the best decorated pandal award in 2003 and 2009.
6. Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir:
Bosepukur Sitala Mandir Durgotsab Committee is one of the top flag bearers in innovative themes in Kolkata and was established in 1950. It is one of the main crowd pullers of Kolkata.
Yet another multi-award winning Durgatsab in Kolkata is the Bosepukur Sitala Mandir that often depicts the rural picture of West Bengal in its thematic structure. It is one of the must visit Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata that is going to celebrate its 67thyear in 2016.
7. Jodhpur Park:
Jodhpur Park Pujo is a renowned and well respected Durga Puja in Kolkata.It is the MAIN attraction of the South of Kolkata. Recently Pally Mangal,beside EEDF and 95 Pally,behind the market have begun using the locality name Jodhpur Park for their pujas. But the actual and original Jodhpur Park Pujo is the one that is held beside the Jodhpur Park Lake for the past 61 years and running, by the residents of the locality ever since they formed the Committee known as Jodhpur Park Saradiya Utsav Committee. Its themes have been vast and varied, with it being more traditional in some years than others.
8. Badamtala Ashar Sangha:
Badamtala Ashar Sangha is now one of the few durga pujas of Kolkata which has slowly and steadily made a permanent place in the hearts of millions. It is like a fairy tale, a long journey full of ecstasy, pain, sweat and joy.
Withstanding over 76 years, the Badamtala Ashar Sangha has a special place in people’s hearts. From simplicity… the journey has seen the Samity win several awards and the creative excellence award by Asian Paints in 2010 was a remarkable break. Badamtala Ashar Sangha is now one of the few durga pujas of kolkata which has slowly and steadily made a permanent place in the hearts of millions.
9. Tridhara Sammilani:
At the meeting point of three roads Rashbehari Avenue, Monoher Pukur Road, and Mahanirban Road stands another popular Durgatsab in South Kolkata, the Tridhara Sammilani Durgatsab. But as the inner meaning goes it is the unique merging of the thoughts of the three generations- The Seniors, The Present and The Future Youth. It is also the fusion ground of Tradition, Culture and Social Activity. Initiated in 1947 in a very homely and quiet ambiance… today it witnesses lakhs of visitors.
Every year the committee focuses on creative and innovative pandals and the journey brought forward a traditional Terracota style of Bishnupur in 2007, replica of the Mantrasala of the Padmanabhapuram Palace of Kerala in 2008, replica of the Yaksheshwar Mahadev Temple in 2009, ‘Brahmo’ in 2010 and a Rajasthani haveli in 2011. It is thus one of the must visit Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata.
It is a norm as always to look down upon the weaker sections of the society. With this concept, Tridhara Sammilani is to echo this in its puja this year.
Stepping into its 82nd year this 2016, the Mudiali Club Durgatsab is yet another popular baroari Durga puja in South Kolkata; it has the distinction of winning the Asian Paints Sharad Samman Best Puja awards in the year 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994. The committee ensures that the glamour of the puja remains undiminished and an ideal joyous ambiance with traditional form of goddess Durga idol, creative pandal structure depicting social causes, current events, heritage OR ancient stories blooming with vivid colours and intrinsic decor.
In the year 2005 it unfolded the Mukteshwar Temple of Orissa that was made up of shola, in 2006 an imaginary designed Zamindar’s Rajbari, in 2007 rural Bengal that was followed by an imaginary temple design in 2008. In the year 2009, they came up with a sand stone temple, followed by another temple design in 2010. In 2011, the “The Light of Life that Wires Bind, Will Shun The Darkness in our Mind” theme depicted the world shabbier towards machine and technology and in 2012 they unfolded a traditional form of goddess Durga attired in gold.