Durga Puja has been an integral part of Bengal.

Durga Puja: Bengal’s Magnum Opus

Who started it?

Since time immemorial, Durga Puja has been an integral part of Bengal. This auspicious occasion got recognition in Bengal in the year 1832 by Raja Harinath. Since then it became one of the greatest festivals of Bengal. Raja Harinath began to worship the Goddess Durga, known as Mahisasuramardiniin in Baghbazar. It is now one of the oldest pujas in Bengal. Since that time, Bengal goes gaga over this festival and they wait for it from Mahalaya. The biggest celebration of Durga Puja goes on for five long days and with a heavy heart, Bengal bid adieu to Devi on Bijaya Dashami.

What has changed in all these years?

It is noteworthy that in all these 187 years, the pattern of the Durga Puja celebration has undergone a massive change or transformation. As compared to previous times, when Durga Puja was only confined within the doors of personal houses, it is now a hub of an exquisite art exhibition of the greatest artistry. For the past ten years, the trend of building the most unique pandal has caused a stir in Bengal. The competition among various puja committees is the new rush of the celebration. The best pandal is felicitated with prestigious awards and recognition.

Durga Puja now celebrates Artists

At this juncture, Bengal not only celebrates the Goddess but the artists as well paving the way for the Magnum Opus. Art has always been a significant part of Bengal’s culture. This has become the platform to highlight some of the brilliant artisanship.

Best from the Waste!

Bengal has become the pioneer of ‘best from the waste’! In recent years, the state has experienced an influx of some brilliant artistry with the help of waste and reusable items. Yes, the artist has shown that paper teacups, straws, oil drums, pencil shavings, earthen pots, spoons, broken bangles, scrapped metal, and many others can be used to make a wonderstruck piece of art. Due to this exposure, many visitors outside Bengal now shows inquisitiveness in pandal hopping in Bengal.

Bling is in!

Durga Puja and new garbs have an eternal connection. From young to old, Bengalis have a new zeal and rush to purchase new attires during this auspicious occasion. Nonetheless, the clothing trend has changed.  Previously buying just another new cloth would bring joy to the Bengalis. However, at present, it is about following the latest trend and looking the best. Therefore, with time Durga Puja has also become the occasion to bring that bling on!  Durga Puja fashion shows, style and fabric expo in various shopping malls, reputed pandal premises and exhibitions is the new trend. Wearing and flaunting the latest fashion whether fusion or ethnic, Bengal is the hub of glitz, glamour, and panache.

Gone or Gain?

In all these years, the face of Bengali Durga Puja has changed. The approach of celebration has taken an epic transformation. The main comparison between the old and new Durga Puja is very noticeable. This is because; previously the celebration was simple, joyful and exciting. Nevertheless, now the celebration includes costly pandals, felicitation, highlighting the latest fashion, exhibitions and mad enthusiasm. It might seem from this that the core essence of Bengali’s Durga Puja is gone. Nevertheless, amidst all the changes and transformation, Bengal has gained international exposure and accolades. Artists all over Bengal have gained revelation. This boosted the artisans in the state. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that whether in yesteryears or now, the madness of Bengali Durga Puja has remained the same.  The legacy shall continue for many more years to come.

Author: Anindita Kanjilal