Photo Gallery: 17 Pictures of Durga Puja in Kolkata

Hindu priest offers Puja to Goddess Durga
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    Overview of the Durga Puja Festival

    Goddess Durga during Durga Puja.
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    Durga Puja is the biggest and most important occasion of the year in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. The festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Goddess Durga installed in homes and beautifully canopied podiums (called pandals) all over the city. At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much music and dancing, and then immersed in the Ganges river. The magnificence of the festival, from start to end, is revealed in these Durga Puja pictures.

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    Making Goddess Durga

    Making Durga.
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    The majority of Durga idola are crafted in Kumartuli in north Kolkata, around 30 minutes drive from the city center. The name literally means "potter's locality" and as it suggests, the area was settled by a group of potters. Find out How to Visit Kumartuli.

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    Drawing the Eyes on Durga

    Drawing the eyes on Durga.
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    The eyes are drawn on the idols of Goddess Durga during a special ritual called Chokkhu Daan. This is performed on Mahalaya, about a week before the start of the Durga Puja festival. The goddess is invited to come to earth on this day.

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    Installing the Durga Idols

    Kumartulli, Kolkata.
    ••• Kumartulli, Kolkata. Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty Images.

    Depending on their size, the idols are transported on special trolleys and in trucks to be installed.

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    Durga Puja Pandal

    Durga Puja Pandal
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    The pandals each have a different theme. Some maintain traditional displays, while others are contemporary.  A highlight of the Durga Puja is visiting all the different pandals (known as pandal hopping).  See this list of 10 Famous Kolkata Durga Puja Pandals.

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    Traditional Durga Idol

    Traditional Durga Idol
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    Durga is depicted with her four children, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati, and Lakshmi. Traditional Durga idols are decorated with plenty of ornaments and bling.

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    Durga Idol Close-Up

    Durga Puja idol closeup.
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    The idols are intricately and thoughtfully crafted in great detail.

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    Contemporary Durga Idol

    Contemporary Durga idol.
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    Contemporary Durga idols are crafted in different styles, typically without the rich decorations that the traditional idols have.

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    Creative Themes

    settings Durga Puja decoration Beautiful decoration of Durga idol during Durga puja celebration in Kolkata, India.
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    Some of the pandals come up with really creative themes, with the decorations as eye-catching as the idols.


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    Lighting and Special Effects

    settings Kolkata gets ready for Durga Puja
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    Many of the pandals use high-tech lighting and special effects to woo the crowds.


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    Bonedi Bari Pujas

    Debi Boron @ Da Bari, Kolkata
    ••• Debi Boron @ Da Bari, Kolkata. suman roychoudhury / Contributor/Getty Images

    Traditional "Bonedi Bari" pujas are held in the city's palatial old private mansions. The mansions belong to affluent aristocratic zamindar (landowner) families who have been carrying on the pujas for centuries. They're spread out across Kolkata (as well as other major towns in Bengal).  Two of the most famous ones are Sovabazar Raj Bari and Rani Rashmoni Bari.

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    Seeking Durga's Blessing

    Durga Puja.
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    Devotees, especially women, come to seek Goddess Durga's blessing during the festival.

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    Durga Puja Worship and Rituals

    Durga Puja worship.
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    At certain times of the day, pandits (Hindu priests) perform aarti ceremonies (worship with fire) for the Goddess. These are popularly attended by devotees. Worship is concluded with a maha aarti (great fire ceremony), which marks the end of the important rituals and prayers.

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    Performing the Dhunuchi Dance

    Dhunuchi Dance at Durga Puja
    ••• Dhunuchi Dance at Durga Puja. Shivang Mehta/Getty Images

    A popular part of Durga Puja rituals is the performance, by devotees, of the Dhunuchi dance in front of the Goddess. This is done with a clay pot (a dhunuchi) filled with a smoking mixture of camphor, incense and coconut husk. The dance is accompanied by traditional drums and drummers.

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    Sindoor Khela Ritual

    Durga Puja Vamillion
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    On the last day of the festival, Goddess Durga returns to her husband's abode and the statutes are taken for immersion. Married women offer red vermillion powder (sindoor) to the Goddess and smear themselves with it (this powder denotes the status of marriage, and hence fertility and bearing of children). This ritual is known as Sindoor Khela.

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    The End of the Durga Puja Festival

    Durga Puja
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    At the conclusion of the festival, after worship has been completed, the idols of Goddess Durga are taken out in procession and immersed in the Hooghly River.

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    Durga Immersion

    Durga immersion.
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    After the immersion process, low-caste men stand in the river and ensure that the thousands of Durga idols make their way down the river safely. They will stand there in the water for hours upon hours, pushing the statues along into the current. For their trouble they are allowed to remove any remaining valuables from the idols, such as bracelets and plastic jewels.