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Durga Puja, West Bengal

Durga Puja is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. This famous festival is celebrated with unsurpassed splendor and gaiety in the eastern part of India, particularly in West Bengal in the season of September-October. Four days of celebration light up the whole province with an extended bout of rituals, music, dance and feasting to welcome the beloved Goddess back to her father’s home.

The goddess Durga or Durga Devi is the epitome of women power. When demons were wrecking havoc on the earth and no power could contain them, the Gods joined forces to create the most powerful deity who slayed the unruly demons to restore peace on the earth.

The Durga Puja celebrates the homecoming of the beloved Goddess to her paternal home and is marked in general by a season of fun and gaiety. This is the time when Kolkata the capital city of West Bengal is decked up in myriad colors and splendid lights. Bengalis all over, aim to make it back to Kolkata during this time so that they can be with their loved ones.

Multiple pandals (makeshift accommodation) houses splendidly decorated idols of the Goddess. The pandals themselves are decorated beautifully and artistically .The whole community reverberates with happiness as friends turn foes and join together to sing praises of the divine intervention which rules our lives .People welcome each other to their houses and partake of splendid feasts.

Indeed to be invited to a Bengali home for a Durga Puja feasts is a chance of a lifetime. From sweet to bitter to salty, the spread is an awesome combination of the most delicious preparations turned out by the womenfolk of the household. This is the chance to exhibit the culinary skills perfected over a lifetime and there is no one who is stepping back from the challenge.

However, for those who do not have a Bengali friend, despair not. The street food of Kolkata will make you a lifelong addict to the Bengali cuisine and your taste buds will go into a frenzy. From sweetmeats to deep fried delicacies, from vegetarian to non vegetarian , from spicy to sweet nothings, there are a hundred dishes that you could try out right here on the streets of Kolkata.

Shop till you drop , in the city lanes for brightly colored attires , shoes and shawls . There is enough to buy till your luggage limits runs out and then some more.

Durga Puja is a celebration of the Indian life. This is where Indians and especially Bengalis, take a break from their life to catch up on what really matters -friends, relatives and loved ones. This festival of gaiety is the lone shining light in the life of every Bengali who struggles through the rigors of life with the hope that come what may Durga Puja will bring the four festive days when everything will turn golden by the homecoming of the beloved Goddess and her divine presence.

/// Written by Indu Roy, India