Saturday, October 24, 2015

Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan

Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
This is the concluding post of the series Durga Puja 2015. I had planned to pandal hop in Haldia and bring before you the best of puja pandals from the petrochemical city. But due to curtailed Durga Puja days this time, I could manage to reach Haldia only after the Vijayadashami to find mostly vacated pandals and ongoing processions of Durga idol immersion of various puja committees. Thousands of people from and outside the city gather near river bank to witness the ritual of idol immersion coated with spectacular carnival vibe. I was kind of impatient to wait by the river and realized that being solo wasn't the best idea either for such festive event. So, I had awful biryani (that's another story) for dinner and drove to a fair ground where Ravan's effigy was waiting to get burnt. I hadn't seen a real life Ravan Dahan before and yesterday night I was totally game for it. Wait, let me put it in an honest way- my enthusiasm behind watching the Ravan Dahan, i.e. burning the effigy of Ravan was not to celebrate the triumph of good over evil but to enjoy the pure fire-show. I least believe in the prototyping of Ravan and Ram as 'evil' and 'good' respectively. But as long as the fanaticism doesn't harm lives I'm fine with the entertainment.
Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
The single-headed effigy of Ravan waiting alone in a corner of the fair ground.

Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
Rockets have been launched once and fire crackers are balancing the rhythm.

Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
A swarm of rockets heading to the effigy while a group of youngsters expresses unbound joy!

Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
The colossal effigy of Ravan is on fire and "Ravan Dahan" made these folks so happy!
As a symbolization of the victory of good over evil, the effigy of Ravan (also spelled as 'Ravana' or 'Raavan') is burnt on Vijayadashami at many places in India. Ravan is the great antagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana, the invincible ruler of the ancient Lanka who had crossed his limits by kidnapping Sita, the wife of Rama. Ravan was an extraordinarily talented and powerful character. It is such a shame that majority of us who cherish at Ravan Dahan every year recognize him as nothing more than an immoral demon with ten heads! During Navratri, in most of the parts of India, "Ram Lila" is organized everyday in the evening for ten consecutive days. The "Ram Lila" play re-enacts sequences and events from the Ramayana, depicting the life of Ram and dramatization of Ram vs Ravan battle concluding with Ravan Vadh (killing of Ravan by Ram). On tenth day of the play (Ram Lila), i.e. on the auspicious day of Dussehra/ Vijayadashami, the epic battle between Ram and Ravan is staged and its ending is familiar to all of us. As soon as Ravan is defeated in the play, colossal effigy of ten-headed Ravan, internally packed with crackers and sparklers is set on fire by an arrow to mark the climax of Dussehra. Spectators enjoy per se the visual grandeur of Ravan Vadh or Ravan Dahan, and return home with revamped optimism- No matter how ugly the situation gets, good always wins over evil.
Durga Puja 2015 - Dussehra Celebration with Ravan Dahan
Last few minutes of music and salsa before the immersion of idol inside a Durga temple in Haldia

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
I am back with my third pandal hopping visual gatherings of Durga Puja 2015 and probably this is the penultimate puja post (just being optimistic about covering Durgapuja pandals of Haldia) for this year. Previously, I had shown you Durga Puja celebration at Barsul and what I had presumed there turned out to be true. Pandal/idol themes are artistic outputs which can't and ought not to be classified bluntly as 'good' or 'bad'. Still I can not help admitting that most of the puja pandals at Bardhaman have disappointed me. It seems puja organizers of Bardhaman who used to be renowned for grand Durgapuja celebration are either short of funds or creative ideas. With ample talented theme artists in rural Bengal who're struggling to get a contract, the former assumption fits better. On a brighter note, I can smell the traditional style of Durgapuja returning soon in my hometown.
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Chinese style in the puja pandal of Alamganj Barwari Durgatsav Committee.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Goddess' chubby form in the pandal of Khaluibil G.T. Road Durgatsav Committee.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
A pandal in the form of monster's den in Lakkhipur area.
The pandal hopping crowd at Bardhaman has gained momentum over years. People from periphery are flocking into the town in charted buses more than before and visitors' queues outside eminent puja pandals even after midnight twelve have become a common sight. The reputation of magnificent puja pandals of Bardhaman built throughout decades is the sole centripetal force behind the outside visitors coming with high expectations. It is such a pity that most of the puja committees didn't take enough care to polish their offerings. If being a localite I can indulge in open criticism to express my dissatisfaction why won't our guests do? Among all big and mid-budget puja themes if a single theme blew me away it was definitely from Alamganj Barwari Durgatsav Committee.
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Durga idol in the puja pandal of Alamganj Barwari Durgatsav Committee.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Durga Puja pandal of Joramandir Puja Committee.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Theme idol of Keshabganj Barwari Durgatsav.
Nonetheless it was pure joy exploring Durga Puja pandals of Bardhaman. It is so refreshing to see positive vibes of so many people at a time, all heading to get glimpses of Devi's face with families or friends. Bardhaman is already an over-congested town (courtesy to few thousands of battery operated three-wheelers) and people tend to lose their patience very easily. But during Durga Puja, we have no hurry, no worry, no mutual negativity and no pulling back stunts. Leaving the artistic side aside for professional critics and analysts, Durga Puja celebration 2015 at Bardhaman has been tremendously colorful, peaceful and successful. You enjoy Dussera/Vijayadashami in happiest possible way while I bring few more photos to complete the Durga Puja 2015 photo series. By the way, did you check Durga Puja photos from Durgapur?
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Fantasy land woven beautifully by a puja committee near Sankharipukur post office.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Marvelous design using fine nets inside the pandal of Laltu Smriti Sangha.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Bardhaman
Interior decoration of a pandal using domestic plastic items like sink pipes, pots, dishes etc.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Riding on NH-2 is a complete bliss in itself, and this 'feel good' factor of a rider gets many times multiplied when the sole intention of riding from Bardhaman to Durgapur is unadulterated pandal hopping to document the grand Durga Puja celebration of the steel city! As I had a promise to keep before I submitted to the sweet slumber of Panchami late night, yesterday I rode to Durgapur and spent the afternoon exploring all major puja pandals with the sincere assistance of Google Maps. Owing to the smooth connecting highway, vicinity to Bardhaman as a day trip destination and most importantly, due to the abundance of artistic masterpieces in Durga Puja themes, almost every year I make a trip to Durgapur. Somehow township roads confuse me and I need to keep seeking help from localites for road directions. This time I shifted to phone GPS and cruised from one puja pandal to the other without a glitch, and at the end of the day the lower odometer reading made me realize how many more kilometers I used to munch in all these past years to navigate the same puja map!
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Kingdom of Lord Shiva as portrayed in the theme of Agrani Club so beautifully!

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Durga idol of Sector 2C Durgapuja Committee.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Pandal theme of Fuljhore Sarbojanin Durgapuja Committee is literally dipped in pink!
Once your entry to Durgapur is at the proper point (for people traveling from Kolkata, take the left diversion from NH-2 to railway station road) your pandal hopping will be butter smooth as most of the major committees fall on a continuous linear road map, of course only if you know those inside roads or take help of your navigation device. Few puja organizing committees in Durgapur who steal the show every year and have been doing it consistently since many years are- Marconi Dakshin Pally, Fuljhore Sarbojanin Durgapuja Committee, Agrani Club, Sector 2C Durgapuja Committee, Nabarun Club Sarbojanin, Durgapur Bazar Sarbojanin, Club Santose etc.
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Radha-Krishna theme with flutes inside the Durga Puja pandal of Marconi Dakshin Pally!

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Durga Puja pandal of Club Santose.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Lord Shiva theme by Agrani Club.
Last year, as per my own assessment the best Durga idol hailed from Marconi Dakshin Pally and the most beautiful pandal/theme was designed by Fuljhore Sarbojanin Durgapuja Committee. In this Durga Puja 2015, hats off to Marconi for coming out with such an unique and pleasing flute theme. Although the pink theme of Fuljhore is so refreshing and highly artistic, I think I was more carried away by the pandal decoration of Agrani Club. I can write thousand more words in praise of each puja pandal I visited in Durgapur, but right now I don't have that luxury; I'm yet to explore Durga Puja of Bardhaman. So, you know what is coming up next. Meanwhile remain doped in this festive air!
Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Theme idol of Fuljhore Sarbojanin Durgapuja Committee looks a bit scary though.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Last minute fine-tuning of the Durga Puja pandal by Marconi Dakshin Pally.

Durga Puja 2015 - Puja Pandals of Durgapur
Gorgeous ceiling art with chandelier inside the puja pandal of Nabarun Club Sarbojanin.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight

Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
Oh, do I really need to give you an introduction to Durga Puja... and that too in 2015? Well, last year in an identical photo post I had mentioned that- "now a days smart cum fast-evolving Bengalis start their Durga Puja pandal-hopping right from Panchami", but after what I heard and saw yesterday, my statement needs a technical update. Pandal hopping starts right from the evening of Chaturthi, unless a puja committee decides to block the entry of over enthusiastic pandal hoppers. This time the rush of visitors (let's call it mad-rush) was so high that a renowned puja organizer in south Kolkata had to temporarily shut down their Durga Puja pandal right on the auspicious evening of Panchami to avoid further catastrophe after a dozen of visitors got injured in a stampede, in naive attempts to witness the eight-storey tall Durga idol of Deshapriyo Park. Thankfully, neither I have the appetite nor the stamina to pandal-hop in the peak evening hours. So, I do Durga Puja Parikrama my way which usually starts after midnight twelve and Durga Puja 2015 shouldn't have been an exception.
Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
I could start my Panchami midnight with Durga Puja pandals of Bardhaman town (how I wish I could call it a city!) but since last few years I have been following a definite pattern of pandal hopping. Barsul (we pronounce it 'Borshul') is a village by the NH-2, in the bank of River Damodar, hardly fourteen kilometers away from Bardhaman. A couple of puja organizers at Barsul have been surprising us consistently with amazing novelty in their pandal art and idol themes. Durga Puja at Barsul has gained so much publicity that you'll find a mile-length visitor queue every puja day right from the late afternoon outside the pandals of Barsul Young Men's Association and Jagarani Durga Puja Committee! I'm admitting it second time in my blog that puja themes at Barsul have impressed me more than those of Bardhaman.
Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
Marvellous pandal interior of Barsul Anandapally puja committee!

Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
A decoration outside the Durgapuja pandal of Barsul Jagarani Durga Puja Committee.
This year apart from the two puja committees I have mentioned already, the efforts of Anandapally puja organizers of Barsul caught my attention. Although it's still hot during daytime, the cold wind infiltrating my ear canals mixed with the germinating fog induced mild sedation to my otherwise insomniac head. After Durga Puja at Barsul was explored and clicked I decided to ride back to my bed. My Panchami midnight pandal hopping was brief but today as the Durga Puja starts officially, I have planned to make it (Puja Parikrama 2015) large and make it count in my odometer too. I am heading to Durgapur steel city to document her grand celebration of Durga puja 2015! Obviously I'll blog about puja pandals of Durgapur, if not today tomorrow for sure.
Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
The theme idol of Barsul Young Men's Association- what an innovative craftsmanship!

Durga Puja 2015 - Pandal hopping on Panchami midnight
The theme idol of Barsul Jagarani Durga Puja Committee- what an exquisite piece of art!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Durga Puja Idols in the Making

Durga Puja Idols in the Making
By now the festive fragrance of Durga Puja is "Knock, knock, knocking on" every Bong's door! Last year, during this time of the year I had taken special interest in visiting idol artisans' workshops to document Durga idols in making. It was sheer pleasure to capture those seldom recognized idol sculptors giving life to lumps of clay with such steady and gifted hands. Making a Durga idol (or idol of any other deity) demands several days of hard and artistic endeavor. Many times, the idol an artisan makes is yet to be commissioned and thus he is left with the only option to wait for a prospective buyer.
Durga Puja Idols in the Making
This year, my dwindling boldness to skip work and chase passion (read "clicking photos") didn't quite allow me to capture different phases of idol making. Better late than never, finally I managed to come up with monochromatic glimpse of the interior of an idol artisan's workshop, partly as an obligation to my dear photo blog and mostly to sedate my pricking conscience of being apathetic towards photography. Once you enter an idol studio you'll discover clay sculptures of various Hindu deities in various sizes, myriad art forms and different phases of making. Idol workshops are usually so packed that there are hardly proper work space for artisans. Still they continue molding and painting clay with utmost efficiency under dim light!
Durga Puja Idols in the Making
Here's an interesting trivia on Durga idol making: Did you know that the idol of deity is not ready for the Puja unless it contains some soil from any brothel? This age old custom is strictly practiced in Bengal. There are many opinions justifying this ritual but I'm stating the one which I found to be somewhat logical. Before I do so, please understand that I am no moral police and certainly not judging anyone's action. Men who visit prostitutes are believed to leave their purity of soul outside the brothel. Thus, the soil outside brothel gets rich in vitamins and minerals of human goodness, making it eligible to be a prime ingredient for Devi's idol. 
Durga Puja Idols in the Making
Although I couldn't bring much photos of idol making, I'll make it up by capturing more during the Durga Puja. Meanwhile you may have a look at my previous photo stories on idol making:-

* Durga Idols yet to get their Vision

* Artisans busy in Painting of Idols

* Idol-makers' friendly Kids