Durga Pujo at 200/3B — Bringing the idol from Kumortuli

The imagery of the carnival spirit of the Durga Pujo celebrations in Calcutta which was painted by every Bengali friend’s repertoire of stories had always remained just that for me — stories. Stories of colour, chaos, beauty, spirituality, camaraderie and food. Delicious tales that embody the spirit of this mad, wonderful city. But the stories finally came to life for me in the most intense way possible this year, when Lovell and I decided to book our train tickets to Calcutta two months in advance so that we could witness the Durga Pujo fervour with some of our closest and craziest friends who gave us the most intimate look into the heart of the Pujo and the celebratory joy that surrounds it.
We realised the stories pale in comparison to the real deal. No form of expression or storytelling does justice to the intense experiences we had over the span of our stay here. Words pale in comparison, pictures hardly capture the hysteria that envelops the city and its people during this time. But we will still attempt to tell our story. For what Calcutta has offered us today will turn into the most intense nostalgia tomorrow. And we want to chronicle this experience the best way we can. [column size=”one-half”]During the 10-day Durga Pujo, the chaos and colours of Calcutta animate to life to become this colossal pulsating being that is buzzing powerfully and constantly to the rhythm of the festivities. The Durga pandals across neighbourhoods are larger than life, dazzlingly brilliant, delightfully bizarre and flamboyant. It’s all great fun, of course. But we were fortunate enough to experience the actual essence of the festival by being part of a Durga Pujo inside a home in Calcutta. Not just any home, but the ancestral home of my precious Mad Chatter, whose insane, noisy and an immensely affectionate family welcomed us warmly into their home like we are one of their own. We got an upclose and personal look into how this large family celebrates the Pujo in their 100+ year-old home, bang in the heart of Gariahat, a booming bazaar area in South Calcutta. It was Chaturthi (the fourth day of the 10-day Dussehra celebrations) when the family packed a whole bunch of us on a tempo and head on a trip to Kumortuli in North Calcutta to fetch their Durga Maa who would preside over the frenzy that would ensue over the next one week in their household. ‘Kumor’ literally translates into ‘potter’, making this place the ‘The Potter’s Lane’. The artisans from this village have been shaping the Durga idols from mud and clay for the whole of Calcutta for centuries now. In fact, Kumortuli has over the years become a hot destination for photowalks or for anyone who is looking to capture the flavour of the Pujo. And when it’s not Durga Pujo, the God-makers of Kumortoli are creating everything from idols for different festivities to even bizarre zoo zoo sculptures! Such is their life. And here are some snapshots of our early morning journey into this fascinating place.[/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
Departing at the break of dawn

Departing at the break of dawn

[/column]
Lokkhi mashi patiently enjoys the ride

Lokkhi mashi patiently enjoys the ride

Tinni and Tua bask in the morning light

Tinni and Tua bask in the morning light

Breaking News

Breaking News

Rohini amazed at the morning sights

Rohini amazed at the morning sights

Yellow Taxi

Yellow Taxi

The haat (bazaar) on Chittaranjan Avenue

The haat (bazaar) on Chittaranjan Avenue

Yellow Taxi at the junction

Yellow Taxi at the junction

The Chatterjee clan walk into an alley in Kumortuli

The Chatterjee clan walk into an alley in Kumortuli

Madhurima and Rahul inspect the unfinished idols

Madhurima and Rahul inspect the unfinished idols

Maa Durga

Maa Durga

Karthikeya pouts for the camera

Karthikeya pouts for the camera

Friends and family share a joke in the presence of Maa Durga

Friends and family share a joke in the presence of Maa Durga

Postmodern Maa Durga

Postmodern Maa Durga

Idol makers sip on chai, smoke some beedis and discuss the local news

Idol makers sip on chai, smoke some beedis and discuss the local news

Puppies prance around

Puppies prance around

Poser dog and her malnourshed pup

Poser dog and her malnourshed pup

Porters get a grip

Porters get a grip

[column size=”one-half”]
Local artisans strike a pose

Local artisans strike a pose

[/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
A lady washes a her clothes in the alley

A lady washes a her clothes in the alley

[/column]
Masks

Masks

Unfinised works of art

Unfinised works of art

Raise your hands for Maa Durga

Raise your hands for Maa Durga

Baba Loknath relaxes on a rooftop

Baba Loknath relaxes on a rooftop

Rahul frowns on an old man walking

Rahul frowns on an old man walking

[column size=”one-half”]
An open door

An open doo

[/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
Priya walk through the alleys of Kumortuli

Priya walk through the alleys of Kumortuli

[/column] [column size=”one-half”]
Stutues in the sun

Stutues in the sun

[/column] [column size=”one-half” last=”true”]
Superhero Zoo zoo

Superhero Zoo zoo

[/column]
Unfinised idols look at Priya menacingly

Unfinised idols look at Priya menacingly

A sun-kissed street at Kumortuli

A sun-kissed street at Kumortuli

Durga Maa begins her journey to Gariahat

Durga Maa begins her journey to Gariahat

Saraswati's dark secret

Saraswati’s dark secret

Up close and personal with Durga Maa

Up close and personal with Durga Maa

Durga Maa takes the stage

Durga Maa takes the stage

Decoration of the home commences

Decoration of the home commences

Rohini uses her attack eyebrows

Rohini uses her attack eyebrows

Lovell helps with the decoration

Lovell helps with the decoration

An aunt watches over the proceedings

An aunt watches over the proceedings