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2014 Durga Puja Dates

Written By News Features Online on Sunday, July 13, 2014 | 11:08 AM

Goddess Durga Arrival on Palanquin
Goddess Durga Departure on Charanayudha


Durga Puja Day 1 - 29th September 2014 (Monday)

Panchami
Bilva Nimantran

Durga Puja Day 2 - 30th September 2014 (Tuesday)

Shashthi
Kalparambha, Akal Bodhon
Amantran and Adhivas

Durga Puja Day 3 - 1st October 2014 (Wednesday)

Saptami
Navpatrika Puja
Kolabou Puja

Durga Puja Day 4 - 2nd October 2014 (Thursday)

Ashtami
Durga Ashtami
Kumari Puja, Sandhi Puja, Maha Navami

Durga Puja Day 5 - 3rd October 2014 (Friday)

Navami
Bengal Maha Navami
Durga Balidan, Navami Homa
Vijayadashami

Durga Puja Day 6 - 4th October 2014 (Saturday)

Dashami
Durga Visarjan
Bengal Vijayadashami
Sindoor Utsav
11:08 AM | 0 comments

Durga Puja Theme Pandals

Written By News Features Online on Saturday, July 12, 2014 | 12:53 AM

Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2012 - Suruchi Sangha
Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2012 - Santoshpur Lakepally
Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2006 - 25 Pally, Kidderpore
Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2005 - Palta, 25 pgs
Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2007 - FD Block, Bidhannagar
Durga Puja Theme Pandal 2011 - Bhawanipur

12:53 AM | 0 comments

Belur Math Durga Puja

Written By News Features Online on Friday, July 11, 2014 | 9:11 AM

Durga Puja was first celebrated at Belur Math in 1901. Since then Durga Puja has been celebrated at Belur Math year after year, although for a few years after the first celebration in 1901, Pratima worship was not done. (In this connection it should be mentioned that Durga Puja was conducted on a small scale, without the image, by the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna during the early years of Ramakrishna Math at Baranagar.) It was Swami Vivekananda himself who started the first Durga Puja with the image at Belur Math. As a rule, Hindu Sannyasins do not conduct this kind of ritualistic worship. Why then did Swamiji start the new tradition?

One reason was to gain the acceptance of the local community for the new way of life that Swamiji and his monastic brothers were leading. The Hindu society in Calcutta had not fully accepted Swamiji's going to the West, and the rather unconventional ways of life at Belur Math which included disregard for caste rules and mixing with Western people. As a matter of fact, the celebration of Durga Puja helped to remove much of the misunderstanding and misgivings about the new monastic institution among the local people.

Another reason was Swamiji wanted to institutionalize respect for divinity of motherhood and sanctity of womanhood. Swamiji saw that one of the main reasons for the advancement of Western people was the elevation of women in the West, and one of the main reasons for the backwardness of India was the neglect of women in this country. Worship of the Divine Mother, especially the Kumari Puja, would create the awareness of the potential divinity of women and a respectful attitude towards them.

A third reason was supernatural. A few days before Durga Puja in 1901, Swamiji had a vision of Durga Puja being done at Belur Math. More or less at that time, Swami Brahmanandaji saw in a vision Mother Durga coming across the Ganga from Dakshineshwar to Belur Math. Swamiji asked Raja Maharaj to make preparations for Durga Puja immediately, although only a few days were left to begin the Puja.

The main problem was to get a clay image for worship. Enquiries at Kamartuli (the street in Kolkata where artisans make clay images) revealed that there was a single beautiful image of Durga in a shop. The person who had ordered it had not turned up, and so the artisan agreed to sell it to the monks.

Apart from the image, a lot of other things had to be collected for the elaborate ritualistic worship. Under able direction of Swami Brahmanandaji everything was done well at short notice.

The first Durga Puja at Belur Math was conducted in a huge Pendal (decorative shed) on the open ground to the north of the old shrine. The invocatory worship on Shashthi (the 6th day of the lunar month) was on 18 October 1901. The Pujari was Brahmachari Krishnalal and the Tantradharak was Isvar Chandra Chakravarty, the father of Shashi Maharaj. Sitting under the Bel tree (which now stands in front of his temple) Swamiji sang Agamani songs welcoming the Divine Mother.

The householder disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and orthodox Brahmins of nearby area had been specially invited, and thousands of people, irrespective of the distinctions of caste or religion, attended the three-day festival. On the night of Navami Swamiji sang many songs in praise of Divine Mother, some of which used to be sung by Sri Ramakrishna.
9:11 AM | 0 comments

Most Popular Durga Puja Pandals In Kolkata

Written By News Features Online on Thursday, July 10, 2014 | 1:41 AM

There are literally thousands of Kolkata Durga Puja pandals but some stand out more than others, as a result of their captivating decorations. Every year they compete to outdo each other with the most elaborate and innovative themes. Here are 10 famous pandals that are really worth seeing. Unfortunately, it's impossible to list all the popular ones because there are so many. Therefore, please do respond and share your favorite ones with us at the bottom of this article.

The easiest way to visit the pandals is to take a Durga Puja festival tour.

Wondering where is best to stay? Try these 7 hotels for Durga Puja in Kolkata.

1. Bagbazar

Bagbazaar is one of the oldest Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata, having been in existence for around 100 years. It's a relatively simple one with emphasis on tradition and culture, but it always attracts the crowds with its strikingly beautiful idol of Goddess Durga.

Location: North Kolkata, along the river in Bagbazaar. Near the Bagbazar Launch Ghat and Bagbazar Kolkata Circular Railway Station. The closest Metro railway station is Shayambazar.

2. Kumartuli Park

Kumartuli Park is a relatively young pandal, but one that has become deservedly popular. It's particularly special because it takes place in the area where many of the Durga idols are handcrafted by professional clay modelers. The organizers believe in thinking outside the box when it comes to themes, so expect the unexpected!

Location: North Kolkata, along the river at Kumartuli Park, just before Bagbazar (ideally, plan to visit both pandals). The nearest railway station is the Sovabazar Metro. It's also close to Sovabazar Launch Ghat.

3. College Square

College Square has a really picturesque setting beside a lake, and the whole area is illuminated for the festival. Understandably, the crowd flocks to this pandal to see the sparkling lights and their reflection on the water. It's best visited at night.

Location: Central Kolkata. 53 College Street. Near Kolkata University, off MG (Mahatma Gandhi) Road. The nearest railway stations are Mahatma Gandhi Road and Central Metro.

4. Mohammad Ali Park

As its name suggests, this pandal is located in a large park. It's another famous crowd puller, with an elaborate and eye catching display.

Location: Central Kolkata. Opposite College Square, on Mahatma Gandhi Road (visit this pandal along with College Square).

5. Santosh Mitra Square

Santosh Mitra Square rose to fame in 1997 with a particularly innovative theme, and has remained popular ever since. It's known for its remarkable art work. You can expect to be dazzled!

Location: Central Kolkata, in the Bow Bazaar area. It's off BB Ganguly Street, not far from Sealdah railway station. The nearest Metro station is Central.

6. Badamtala Ashar Sangha

Badamtala Ashar Sangha is a long standing Durga Puja pandal (around 75 years old) that also has a special place in people's hearts. From humble beginnings it grew to win an award for creative excellence in 2010.

Location: South Kolkata. Nepal Bhattacharjee Street, Kalighat. Right near the Kalighat Metro railway station and Rash Bihari Ave.

7. Suruchi Sangha

Suruchi Sangha entertains visitors with a cultural extravaganza and outdoor display, themed on a different state of India each year. The Durga idols are modeled on how they look in each state as well. Although this puja pandal is more than 50 years old, it first found fame in 2003 when it won an award for the best decorated pandal. It won the award again in 2009. The artwork is exquisite.

Location: South Kolkata, in New Alipore near the petrol pump on Nalini Rajan Avenue (close to the National Highway 117 intersection). The nearest railways stations are Majherhat and Kalighat.

8. Ekdalia Evergreen

Ekdalia Evergreen is an elaborate pandal with exotic decor and lighting. This pandal has become well known for its magnificent replicas of temples from all over India. It's also best visited at night.

Location: South Kolkata, in Gariahat. You'll find it near Mandevilla Gardens where the South Point Junior School is, off Rash Bihari Avenue towards Gariahat Flyover. The nearest railway stations are Ballygunge and Kalighat Metro.

9. Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir

Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir is a multi-award winning Durga Puja pandal, earining it quite a reputation as one not to be missed. Of course, the unique themes each year are the main attraction.

Location: South Kolkata, in Bose Pukar, Kasba. Drive towards Ruby General Hospital from Gariahat and you'll find the pandal around midway, near Bose Pukar petrol pump. The closest railway station is Ballygunge.

10. Jodhpur Park

Jodhpur Park durga puja pandal is one of the most popular ones in south Kolkata. Its themes have been vast and varied, with some years more traditional than others.

Location: South Kolkata. The puja is at Jadavpur Thana, Jodhpur Park, just off Gariahat Road South. (Jodhpur Park is close to Gariahat and Dhakuria). The nearest railway station is Dhakuria.
1:41 AM | 0 comments

Suruchi Sangha, New Alipore, 2013 Puja

Written By News Features Online on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 9:40 PM

New Alipore SURUCHI SANGHA, a sports & cultural club of New Alipore, Kolkata-700 053, having its own playground and all the other facility.

The organization was established in the year 1952. “Suruchi Sangha” has been organizing Durga Puja/Sarodotsav during the last 55 years and especially from 2001 in a befitting and gorgeous manner at the 2nd 5 points crossing of Kolkata which is well known for its aristocracy where a large number of cosmopolitan people reside in complete peace and harmony irrespective of their faith & belief toward God Durga from ancient time onwards.
9:40 PM | 0 comments

Durga Puja: History And Origin

Durga Puja - the ceremonial worship of the mother goddess, is one of the most important festivals of India. Apart from being a religious festival for the Hindus, it is also an occasion for reunion and rejuvenation, and a celebration of traditional culture and customs. While the rituals entails ten days of fast, feast and worship, the last four days - Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami - are celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur in India and abroad, especially in Bengal, where the ten-armed goddess riding the lion is worshipped with great passion and devotion.

Durga Puja Mythology: Rama's 'Akal Bodhan'

Durga Puja is celebrated every year in the Hindu month of Ashwin (September-October) and commemorates Prince Rama's invocation of the goddess before going to war with the demon king Ravana. This autumnal ritual was different from the conventional Durga Puja, which is usually celebrated in the springtime. So, this Puja is also known as 'akal-bodhan' or out-of-season ('akal') worship ('bodhan'). Thus goes the story of Lord Rama, who first worshipped the 'Mahishasura Mardini' or the slayer of the buffalo-demon, by offering 108 blue lotuses and lighting 108 lamps, at this time of the year.

The First Durga Puja in Bengal

The first grand worship of Goddess Durga in recorded history is said to have been celebrated in the late 1500s. Folklores say the landlords or zamindar of Dinajpur and Malda initiated the first Durga Puja in Bengal. According to another source, Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur or Bhabananda Mazumdar of Nadiya organized the first Sharadiya or Autumn Durga Puja in Bengal in c 1606.

The 'Baro-Yaari' Puja and Beginning of Mass Celebration

The origin of the community puja can be credited to the twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal, who collaborated and collected contributions from local residents to conduct the first community puja called the 'baro-yaari' puja or the 'twelve-pal' puja in 1790. The baro-yaari puja was brought to Kolkata in 1832 by Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar, who performed the Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Murshidabad from 1824 to 1831, notes Somendra Chandra Nandy in 'Durga Puja: A Rational Approach' published in The Statesman Festival, 1991.

Origin of 'Sarbajanin Durga Puja' or Community Celebration

"The baro-yaari puja gave way to the sarbajanin or community puja in 1910, when the Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha organized the first truly community puja in Baghbazar in Kolkata with full public contribution, public control and public participation. Now the dominant mode of Bengali Durga Puja is the 'public' version," write M. D. Muthukumaraswamy and Molly Kaushal in Folklore, Public Sphere, and Civil Society. The institution of the community Durga Puja in the 18th and the 19th century Bengal contributed vigorously to the development of Hindu Bengali culture.

British Involvement in Durga Puja

The research paper further indicates that "high level British officials regularly attend Durga Pujas organized by influential Bengalis and British soldiers actually participate in the pujas, have prasad, and even salute the deity, but 'the most amazing act of worship was performed by the East India Company itself: in 1765 it offered a thanksgiving Puja, no doubt as a politic act to appease its Hindu subjects, on obtaining the Diwani of Bengal'. (Sukanta Chaudhuri, ed. Calcutta: the Living City, Vol. 1: The Past) And it is reported that even the Company auditor-general John Chips organized Durga Puja at his Birbhum office. In fact, the full official participation of the British in the Durga Puja continued till 1840, when a law was promulgated by the government banning such participation."

Durga Puja Comes to Delhi

In 1911, with the shifting of the capital of British India to Delhi, many Bengalis migrated to the city to work in government offices. The first Durga Puja in Delhi was held in c. 1910, when it was performed by ritually consecrating the 'mangal kalash,' symbolizing the deity. This Durga Puja, which celebrates its centennial in 2009, is also known as the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja currently organized by the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti in the lawns of Bengali Senior Secondary School, Alipur Road, Delhi.

Evolution of the 'Pratima' and the 'Pandal'

The traditional icon of the goddess worshiped during the Durga Puja is in line with the iconography delineated in the scriptures. In Durga, the Gods bestowed their powers to co-create a beautiful goddess with ten arms, each carrying their most lethal weapon. The tableau of Durga also features her four children - Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Traditional clay image of Durga or pratima made of clay with all five gods and goddesses under one structure is known as 'ek-chala' ('ek' = one, 'chala' = cover).

There are two kinds of embellishments that are used on clay - sholar saaj and daker saaj. In the former, the pratima is traditionally decorated with the white core of the shola reed which grows within marshlands. As the devotees grew wealthier, beaten silver (rangta) was used. The silver used to be imported from Germany and was delivered by post (dak). Hence the name daker saaj.

The huge temporary canopies - held by a framework of bamboo poles and draped with colorful fabric - that house the icons are called 'pandals'. Modern pandals are innovative, artistic and decorative at the same time, offering a visual spectacle for the numerous visitors who go 'pandal-hopping' during the four days of Durga Puja.
9:34 PM | 0 comments

Bengal government's bottled water to hit stores this Durga Puja

Written By News Features Online on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 | 1:26 PM

Bottled water manufactured by the West Bengal government will hit stores across the state starting this Durga Puja, a minister said Tuesday.

The state government has forayed into producing good quality bottled water at a cheaper price than the ones available in the market, said Subrata Mukherjee, minister of public health engineering and panchayat and rural development.

"We have zeroed-in on six-seven sites for manufacturing 'Pran Dhara' bottled water in all shapes and sizes. The operations started in March in one of the sites and the first lot of water bottles will be available at stores starting from Durga Puja (in September)," Mukherjee told.

The plants at Siliguri, Coochbehar, Malda, Murshidabad, Purbasthali, Haringhata and Barrackpore will be pressed into service in a phased manner while the one at South 24-Parganas is functional.
1:26 PM | 0 comments

Mamata dispels Bakri Eid, Puja date clash fears

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday drew the roadmap for a safe immersion this year by clearing all doubts over a possible date clash between Durga idol immersion and Bakri Eid. She was speaking at Sharad Samman 2013, a programme where puja organizers were awarded for their participation in the city's biggest festival.

This year, Maha Nabami and Dashami will be on the same day ? October 3, which is a Friday. Since there is a tradition of immersing idols on week days, most organizers will plan their immersion on October 6, Monday, the Bakhri Eid day. The possibility kept the organizers, police and the administration worried.

However, the CM chose the Sharad Samman programme to dispel all fears for once and all. "On October 3, all household Durga idols will be immersed. The rest will be immersed on October 5, Sunday. The immersion will remain closed till 8pm on October 6, Monday," Mamata said.

On Thursday, the chief minister doled out cash rewards to different puja organizers. There were numerous categories and hardly any major puja organizer was left out of the list. There were categories like Safe Puja, Best Puja, Sera Salpo Budget Puja, Sera Sambhabana, Sera Paribesh, Sera Bishoy, Serar Sera, Sera Alo, Sera Shailpik Utkarsho etc. Each category had a cash award of Rs 50,000.

Then there were Mayor's choice in 30 odd categories again, each having a cash award of Rs 50,000. There were more categories like Biswa Bangla Sarad Samman and Biswa Bangla Bishesh Swikriti, each with cash awards of Rs 1 lakh. ?Sera' volunteers got Rs 2000 each.
1:08 PM | 0 comments

Durga Puja Mandap Directory

25 Pally, Kidderpore
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Bagbazar
Belur Math
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir
College Sq
Ekdalia Evergreen
FD Block, Bidhannagar
Kumartuli
Jodhpur Park
Md Ali Park
Palta
Santosh Mitra Sq
Santoshpur Lakepally
Suruchi Sangha
25 Pally, Kidderpore
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Bagbazar
Belur Math
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir
College Sq
Ekdalia Evergreen
FD Block, Bidhannagar
Kumartuli
Jodhpur Park
Md Ali Park
Palta
Santosh Mitra Sq
Santoshpur Lakepally
Suruchi Sangha
25 Pally, Kidderpore
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Bagbazar
Belur Math
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir
College Sq
Ekdalia Evergreen
FD Block, Bidhannagar
Kumartuli
Jodhpur Park
Md Ali Park
Palta
Santosh Mitra Sq
Santoshpur Lakepally
Suruchi Sangha
25 Pally, Kidderpore
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Bagbazar
Belur Math
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir
College Sq
Ekdalia Evergreen
FD Block, Bidhannagar
Kumartuli
Jodhpur Park
Md Ali Park
Palta
Santosh Mitra Sq
Santoshpur Lakepally
Suruchi Sangha

Theme Mandap 2012 Suruchi Sangha

Theme Mandap 2012 Santoshpur Lakepally

Theme Mandap 2011 Bhawanipur

Theme Mandap 2007 FD Block Bidhannagar

Theme Mandap 2006 Kidderpore

Theme Mandap 2005 Palta

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