Grand festival
The festival we look forward to every year as a short respite from the humdrum of life is almost round the corner. Durga Puja fills our hearts with love, hope and happiness. It is the time of the year when the evils are wiped out with the advent of the deity.

Although the heat is intense now and sudden spells of rain playing the spoilsport, one will find the irrepressible surge of crowd in the shopping malls, which have lately sprung up in Serampore. Some of the shops have engaged Dhakis who starts playing to create the festive mood.

The cost of every single item has shoot up like anything. People are being forced to curtail down their requirements. What’s however remarkable is that almost every organiser of this festival here, collects money and buys gifts like dresses and blankets and distributes them among the underprivileged section of the society. The evening turns almost into a mini Kumbh Mela with pouring crowds of people.

Unable to control the chaos of traffic and commoners, the police have placed ‘No Entry’ sign boards at certain strategic points.

Sometimes one will have to make a detour to reach the destination. One might just have to walk rather than riding Totos and Autorickshaws.

Though the city gets chock-a-block with traffic during this time yet the energy level of the people remains high. Just like Kumortuli in Kolkata, we also have our traditional Patuapara where the gifted potters make beautiful deities throughout the year. They are in great demand not only within the town but also beyond the city.

The work on the ‘pandals’ across the town is already part way through.

In some places the stage is being set. For instance at Nehru Nagar Colony Mahesh, where the theme of the Puja last year was Golden Temple of Amritsar, this year they are coming up with the theme Amarnath, Kashmir.

The Colony usually draws a huge stream of visitors. Similarly, the festival is celebrated with great pomp, grandeur and gaiety in Ballavpore Thakurbati, Bhagirathi Lane, Shashi Bhusan Ghosh Lane, Milan Samiti, Mallikpara, Chatra Goswami Rajbari and Gargarighat, Lakhsmighat and at many other places of this town.

People hailing from Serampore who work elsewhere visits the town during this time of the year only to be united with friends and relatives and rejoice this festival.

Just like any other place, our town too struggles with a few problems. But during the Pujas, difficulties take a back seat. People at the time of immersion cry out “Ashche bochor abar hobe” (next year it’ll happen again). However, we don’t want this festival to get over.

(Souromi Banerjee, Coordinator, Class XI, Auxilium Convent School, Bandel)

Thriving with elation
The preparation for the biggest festival of the Bengalis is at its zenith. Bongaon the booming city is also not lagging behind. The Puja here holds its unique charm and is filled with nostalgia. It is an amalgamation of culture and inimitable craze. Though theme Pujas have cropped up, several sabeki pujas (old-traditional) still exists, retaining its glory.

Durga Puja in Bongaon is something different than the ones held elsewhere. It is the harmonious blend of fraternity and ‘love for all’. It helps to revive the lost adda culture. Now that it is a week left, the structures of the pandals are almost ready. The dhaaks (drums) have started beating reminding us that not much time is left for the grand festival to commence.

Besides theme Pujas, various traditional ones like aathchala add to the charm of the festivity here. Several heritage Pujas like Dawn House, Dutta House and many more is quite famous.
Various delicacies are also prepared during this time. Nonetheless, Durga Puja is not only about hopping pandals, but also, it helps to promote a never-ending brotherhood among people. It is the time for togetherness, for celebration.

(Manjush Halder, Coordinator, Class VIII, Bongaon High School)

Sparkling bright
The art of lighting during Durga Puja is an integral part of the festivity that adds to the beautiful aspect of the ambience.

Like the dazzling light decorations of Kolkata, we have also become used to the huge gates that loom up during the evenings in Chandannagar. We can now say that this place is also a part and parcel of the Durga Puja.

Looking around, one will be simply mesmerised by the different characters, anecdotes, mythological stories that these light boards portray in a pictorial way that not only grabs the attention of the children but also that of the adults.

It also narrate the story of those hapless labourers whose efforts are reflected through these pieces of art.

Toiling day and night, they finish them before the advent of Pujas. Instead of engaging in buying new dresses and spending quality time with family, they work hard to put up mesmerising grand structures with finesse.

Such intricate craftsmanship adds to the splendour during the Pujas.
Besides, fashion too is also an essential part Durga Puja. Women dressed in trendy attires, pretty accessories, gaudy sarees, anarkalis, lehengas, kaftans, salwar suits adorn the streets during this festival.

(Anushka Roy, Coordinator, Class XI, St Joseph’s Convent, Chandannagar)