Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Calcutta - Durga Durga Durga

The Durga Puja
aka: Craziness In Calcutta

Meet Ritesh and Vivek. I stayed with them at their place for a week or so. They were too friendly with me and showed me how to enjoy Calcutta. We went out to see the craziness of the Durga Puja and had one of the greatest nights in India. Thanks guys!

The Durga Splash. All night, devotees of the Goddess Durga, or Mother Durga, the goddess of fearlessness and patience, representing the energy of the world. She is one of the representations of Shiva's wife, alluding energy to those to seek her power and wisdom. Weeks and even months before the festival, Hindus all around Calcutta gather to create a Puja for worship. Then on the last day of the Durga Puja, the devotees bring their puja statues to the River Ganga/ Ganges River, and push the puja/statue into the river. Sending Durga, and the other gods, to their freedom, noting that the River Ganga is a holy river. They are simply sending their gods back home.

We also partook in some authentic Calcutta side-street cuisine. Litti, or small doughy balls of grilled goodness, ended up in our stomachs as a mid-evening break before the craziness continued. Actually a Bihari style dish, this litti shop on the side of the Ganga River is one of the few places in Calcutta one can enjoy this small yet savory dish. I had two plates, if thats any surprise. Then we complimented this Litti with a "special" chai next door. Unable to gather what secret ingredient was actually put into the chai, I took it down with weary enjoyment and felt a little tipsy afterwards.

Now you see Durga, Now you don't. Enjoy the river, Durga.

The Durga Puja is a parade of the gods. Hundreds if not thousands of these statues built by the people would drive, slowly, their constructions to the Ganga to release the gods into the river. This means that if you had any other plans this night, and needed to get somewhere, you would have needed to leave several hours in advance to arrive. All through the streets, the many floats floating through the streets were shared by those viewing on the sides of the roads, as well as those drunk and dancing to the blaring music all through the night. As the people were heading to the river, Vivek, Ritesh and I went the opposite way, starting at the river and backtracking towards the center city. This led us to view all the floats heading to the river, partying or dancing with all the people in the street, and climbing aboard some of the floats and generating some pictures with Durga. What a beauty she is!!!

Hop aboard, one and all - Myself and a devotee floating with the God, Durga. Float on!

All the lovely people, where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?

Partying with red tikka on their faces - I too was graced with a red strip streaking through my forehead.

Women climbing up to pray to Durga, and receive her blessing.

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