‘Pandal-hopping’ gathers momentum on Day Two of Durga PujaOctober 6th, 2008 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Oct 6 (IANS) The crowds at the marquees across the city became bigger, the aroma of incense sticks thicker and cultural programmes unfoleded in more numbers as Durga Puja - the biggest festival of West Bengal - entered its second day Monday.With over 4,000 marquees or ‘pandals’ across Kolkata this year, people started ‘pandal-hopping’ early morning to avoid the rush. And the themes for pandals included unique and contemporary subjects.
“Our Puja pandal at Santosh Mitra Square in north Kolkata is a prototype of Tata’s small car Nano. The 5-foot wide and 5-foot tall yellow ‘Nano’ pandal is tied with a chain and a lock to symbolise West Bengal’s loss from such an international project,” said Ratan Pal, one of the puja organisers.
Organisers have been innovative and imaginative in designing and constructing pandals. Some of the ‘weird’ things used this year for making the marquees include eggshells, coconut shells, earthen cups, porcelain, slates and chalks, match boxes and cold drink bottles!
The second day of Durga Puja - Maha Saptami - started with the bathing of a banana plant in a nearby pond. The plant is treated like a bride, wrapped in a new sari and placed next to the idol of Lord Ganesh, son of Goddess Durga. This plant is called ‘Kolabau’ (banana plant bride) and is considered the wife of Ganesha.
The ritual is called ‘Nabapatrika snan-o-sthapan’ and many believe this practise is traced to the agrarian society of east India. The Nabapatrika (new leaves) consists of nine banana leaves.
After the ritual, special worship for Saptami started and devotees on an empty stomach thronged pandals to pray to Durga and offered her ‘pushpanjali’.
The joys of Puja were not limited to pandal-hopping, eating out and wearing new clothes, but at most of the pandals various cultural programmes were held in the evening.
According to Hindu mythology, the festivities and prayers begin with the symbolic arrival of the goddess on earth on the sixth day of the first quarter of the moon and ends on Dashami or the 10th day, which is celebrated across the country as Dassehra.
Traditionally, every pandal has an idol of Goddess Durga depicting her as slaying the demon Mahishasur. She is shown astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her 10 arms.
With the swelling crowds and festivities, traffic congestion is a huge problem in Kolkata, but traffic policemen say they have taken enough precautions.
A Kolkata Traffic Police officer told IANS: “The traffic is slow moving. But there are no major traffic jams as this year we have taken all necessary steps to keep the traffic flowing.”