The most popular festival, Durga Puja, is celebrated with exuberance and a great deal of pomposity especially in West Bengal.
You may have heard of Durga Puja but you probably may not know much about the traditional Bonedi Pujo, Sindur Khela or Mahalaya. Here’s how they celebrate Durgotshov in Kolkata:
Mahalaya is the vibe Bongs wait for all year long. Yes, the music, the Rangoli and not to forget, the holidays. Two weeks before the festival, every locality echoes the pujo songs and most streets are full of Rangoli. This time, create the exact Mahalaya vibe by gathering your pujo partners.
If you have a Bong friend, you sure must have heard it from them a thousand times, “I have to shop for pujo” like it’s a huge task.
“Big deal?” You may think. It’s a fun, expensive yet long process of meticulously choosing multiple pairs of outfit. No! no, no! Not just for yourself, you will have to shop for all your loved ones too.
Bonedi means affluent in English. The affluent families in West Bengal have been celebrating pujo with rituals that have lasted over 100+ years, some even 200+ and 300+ years. This is known as Bonedi pujo. People from all over India and also the world, come to witness the grandeur of Bonedi Pujo.
Durga pujo is all about socialising with people. Hopping lit-themed pandals for shopping and bhog is a must in Pujo. In fact, is Durga Pujo even Pujo if you didn’t hop from pandal to pandal? Go try the delectable dishes or simply shop for the Bong accessories exclusively available at pandals. You can’t miss out the famous arti dance -- Dhunachi naach.
While Gujaratis fast and eat veg food, Bengalis go gaga over Mach Bhaat (Fish curry), Kosha Mangsho (Mutton curry), Ilish Bhapa (Salmon curry) and all other non-veg delicacies. There are over 20 unique dishes that are prepared during pujo, and every pandal has a unique dash of flavour added to these dishes.
Of course, Mishti Doi, Sondesh and Rosogulla are consumed in copious amounts.
Goddess Durga is sent off on the day of Dashami. On the day of pujo, married women apply vermilion (Sindoor) on each other’s faces. This ceremony is known as Sindhur or Sidhur Khela (Playing with vermilion).