Gear up for Durga Puja Celebrations in Style!
With the festive season right around the corner, Indians all over the globe are immersed in the preparations for the fasting, feasting, praying, shopping and merry-making that are part and parcel of this time of the year. The number of Indian festivals may astound anyone who tries to list them but some are very close to our hearts, like the delightful and chaotic Durga Puja celebrations.
The festival’s origins are steeped in ancient times, when Lord Rama sought the blessings of Goddess Durga before his battle with the demon king Ravana. Today, the Goddess is honored in a bright, colorful and joyful display that lasts over a period of 6 days between late September and early October (the final days of the Navaratri period).
What is So Special about Durga Puja Festivities?
Like the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Maharashtra and Goa, Durga Puja is defined by rituals, prayers and feasts that span the festive period. Idols of the Goddess, her consort Shiva and son Ganesha are displayed in elaborate pandals where people seek their blessings and offer Prasad. These idols are immersed in water on the last day of the festival, with a host of other ceremonies in between.
Durga Puja festivities are vibrant, joyful and unforgettable!
There is dancing and revelry that lasts late into the night, especially in the major centers of the festival. Whether they are fasting or feasting, people of every age dress up in their finest and join in the fun, rubbing shoulders with thousands of revelers, neighbors, family and friends. Gifts are often exchanged – sweetmeats for colleagues or acquaintances and traditional ethnic clothing, watches and jewelry being preferred for close friends and loved ones.
Dances, feasts and cultural performances liven up the nights
Feasts play a large role in Durga Puja celebrations, with stalls set up along roadsides, in marketplaces and along procession routes. Delicious Bengali dishes with fish and vegetables are a staple, but you can get practically anything your heart desires. Mouth-watering delicacies abound and every man, woman or child considers it a sacred duty to eat as many of these foods as they can!
Where Should You Go During Durga Puja?
Prayers are offered to seek Goddess Durga’s blessings
Prayers and ceremony are a huge part of every festival in the country, but Durga Puja is one of the most social and extravagant sights that you could ever see. It is most widely feted in West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and neighboring areas, but cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are not far behind, either. India’s neighbors have also absorbed the essence of the festival, with religious and social events hosted in areas of Nepal, Bangladesh and China.
Globally, Indians as well as members of other communities gather to eat, dance and celebrate the puja. Indonesia and South East Asian countries share a lot of religious and cultural similarities with India, so the festival is celebrated with equal joy and passion. Australia, Europe, the US and UK also witness grand-scale festivities organized by Indian communities, as do certain parts of the Middle East.
In Kolkata and West Bengal, celebrations are held on a huge scale
If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Kolkata and other areas of Bengal during the Durga Puja festival, you can immerse yourself in a breath-taking display of pomp, joy and religious fervor. While the occasion is celebrated in every corner of the world, there is something special about being in the heartland and relishing the ultimate embodiment of the puja!
How Should You Dress for the Festivities?
Dressing for festivals is always fun, since you get to wear colorful attire, accessories and jewelry that you may not be able to wear on a daily basis. Puja clothing and ethnic party wear go hand in hand, since they reflect your cultural heritage while allowing you to get all dressed up too!
When it comes to picking outfits for Durga Puja and Navratri celebrations, traditional is the way to go. Bright color-block sarees, pastel-hued anarkalis and elegant lehengas are some of the hottest styles for the festive season, and they tie in perfectly with the joyful essence of the festivals that are around the corner
Pick out colors and styles that suit your body type and personality, and remember to keep your choices light and easy to wear. No matter which area of the world you’re in, Durga Puja festivities will involve a lot of dancing, feasting and other activity, so you should be able to walk around in complete comfort!
Image Credits: Partha Sarathi Sahana, Debarup Mukherjee, Amarnath, Matthias Rosenkranz (Flickr Creative Commons)