It’s me again, back to encourage you to take another virtual tour with me. This time, I want you to join me in my hometown, Kolkata.
Today is Saptami, the second day of the 5-day Durga Puja celebrations.
Celebrated originally in private households and then in public spaces over almost two centuries, the festival has now taken the shape of an art festival in which temporary immersive art installations housing idols of the goddess are erected all over roads, neighbourhoods, parking lots, and made freely accessible to the public.
These immersive installations function both as religious spaces where rituals are performed, as well as spaces of artistic expression and viewer experience.
I have celebrated the annual Durga Puja festival in autumn my entire life. I would look forward to the festival all year, as did all my friends and family. School would be shut for a month, and preparations would begin in the weeks before the festival, as is the norm to this day.
Each neighbourhood commissions artists to build their installations, and the process involves multiple artisans, construction workers, and craftspeople who work together to create magic.
The city is filled with hoardings and banners. TV and radio channels play jingles and ads referencing the upcoming festival. Special editions of magazines and new music albums are released.
During the festival, I go out into the city with friends and family to visit installations in different neighbourhoods, gorge on special Pujo food and take part in concerts and plays.
In short, the city transforms into Wonderland.
I wish there were a virtual tour out there on the internet that could make you feel like you’re in the midst of all this – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching everything the city has to offer at this time.
PLEASE go have a look, and next year, book your tickets to the City of Joy to experience it all in person.
P.S. Send Just One Thing to your friends and family as a Durga Puja gift.