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

Posted in West Bengal by Priya Ramachandran.

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.

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.

Departing at the break of dawn
Departing at the break of dawn
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
Local artisans strike a pose
Local artisans strike a pose
A lady washes a her clothes in the alley
A lady washes a her clothes in the alley
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
An open door
An open door
Priya walks through the alleys of Kumortuli
Priya walks through the alleys of Kumortuli
Stutues in the sun
Stutues in the sun
Superhero Zoo zoo
Superhero Zoo zoo
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

Or leave us a comment

Because we would love to hear what you have to say!

Sitemap

We know we have a lot of content scattered around on our website.
Hence we've made this sitemap to help you navigate around.

Pages

Links to help you find your way around here.

World

Stories from around the world.