- 08/12/13–00:01: delicious food options in Durga Pooja
Bengalis love food, and Durga Puja is the perfect excuse to eat all that the heart desires!
When it comes to spending on great tasting menus, Bengalis are a thrifty lot. Durga Puja is just one of the many occasions to empty the pockets and fill stomachs with every available variety out there!
Everything, starting from the Bengali’s favorite ‘pulao mangsho’ to Tandoori, Moghlai and a mix of Indian cuisines, is there to make up a soul-satisfying palate. Exploring the international flavors, included foremost in the list of cuisines is the Chinese, perpetually every Bengali’s favorite. Thai too is starting to appeal the tastes buds, including Italian, although the latter is still widely popular in the forms of pizza and pasta. The coffee culture has been in vogue for quite some time; there are the Café Coffee Days and Baristas to vile away the afternoon and evenings over a cup of hot cappuccino or a plate of chocolate pastry.
Comfort is the key to enjoyment, at least for the Bengalis. An air-conditioned restaurant, cushioned chairs and music to accompany their meals is tempting to the spoilt babumoshai‘. But make no mistake. When it comes to enjoying a cheap, tasty food break, it’s the roadside food stall that wins over any Park Street posh restaurant or bar.
The good-old tea stalls with their teas served in ‘bhaars’ with a couple of tough, bland bakery biscuits, or the roll-stall serving hot, spicy, vegan and non-vegan rolls, have a charm of their own. The ‘puchkawala’ is everybody’s favorite, together with the others that serve ‘ghugni’, ‘chaats’, ‘bhelpuri’, etc. And if the spice gets a bit too much, there are the big red cloth-wrapped aluminum ‘handis’ carrying ‘kulfi’, that are the best coolers on a sunny Puja morning, and a traditional favorite too.
Make it rich, make it tasty, keep it reasonably priced – the formula never fails with Bengalis!
- 08/13/13–23:50: ALL the 108 Names of Durga Maa
- Sati – One who got burned alive
- Saadhvi -The Sanguine
- Bhavaprita – One who is loved by the universe
- Bhavaani – The abode of the universe
- Bhavamochani – The absolver of the universe
- Aarya – Goddess
- Durga – The Invincible
- Jaya – The Victorious
- Aadya – The Initial reality
- Trinetra – One who has three-eyes
- Shooldharini – One who holds a monodent
- Pinaakadharini – One who holds the trident of Shiva
- Chitra – The Picturesque
- Chandaghanta – One who has mighty bells
- Mahaatapa – With severe penance
- Manah – Mind
- 17. Buddhi – Intelligence
- Ahankaara – One with Pride
- Chittarupa – One who is in thought-state
- Chita – Death-bed
- Chiti – The thinking mind
- Sarvamantramayi – One who possess all the instruments of thought
- Satta – One who is above all
- Satyanandasvarupini – Form of Eternal bliss
- Ananta – One who is Infinite or beyond measure
- Bhaavini – The Beautiful Woman
- Bhaavya – Represents Future
- Bhavya – With Magnificence
- Abhavya – Improper or fear-causing
- Sadagati – Always in motion, bestowing Moksha (salvation)
- Shaambhavi – Consort of Shambhu
- Devamata – Mother Goddess
- Chinta – Tension
- Ratnapriya – Adorned or loved by jewels
- Sarvavidya – Knowledgeable
- Dakshakanya – Daughter of Daksha
- Dakshayajñavinaashini – Destroyer of the sacrifice of Daksha
- Aparna – One who doesn’t eat even leaves while fasting
- Anekavarna – One who has many complexions
- Paatala – Red in color
- Paatalavati – Wearing red-color attire
- Pattaambaraparidhaana – Wearing a dress made of leather
- Kalamanjiiraranjini – Wearing a musical anklet
- Ameyaa – One who is beyond measure
- Vikrama – Violent
- Krrooraa – Brutal (on demons)
- Sundari – The Gorgeous
- Sursundari – Extremely Beautiful
- Vandurga – Goddess of forests
- Maatangi – Goddess of Matanga
- Matangamunipujita – Worshipped by Sage Matanga
- Braahmi – Power of God Brahma
- Maaheshvari – Power of Lord Mahesha (Shiva)
- Aeindri – Power of God Indra
- Kaumaari – The adolescent
- Vaishnavi – The invincible
- Chaamunda – Slayer of Chanda and Munda(demons)
- Vaarahi – One who rides on Varaah
- Lakshmi – Goddess of Wealth
- Purushaakriti -One who takes the form of a man
- Vimalauttkarshini -One who provides joy
- Gyaana – Full of Knowledge
- Kriya – One who is in action
- Nitya – The eternal one
- Buddhida – The bestower of wisdom
- Bahula – One who is in various forms
- Bahulaprema – One who is loved by all
- Sarvavahanavahana -One who rides all vehicles
- NishumbhaShumbhaHanani – Slayer of the demon-brothers Shumbha Nishumbha
- MahishasuraMardini – Slayer of the bull-demon Mahishaasura
- MadhuKaitabhaHantri – Slayer of the demon-duo Madhu and Kaitabha
- ChandaMundaVinashini – Destroyer of the ferocious asuras Chanda and Munda
- Sarvasuravinasha – Destroyer of all demons
- Sarvadaanavaghaatini – Possessing the power to kill all the demons
- Sarvashaastramayi – One who is deft in all theories
- Satya – The truth
- Sarvaastradhaarini – Possessor of all the missile weapons
- Anekashastrahasta – Possessor of many hand weapons
- AnekastraDhaarini – Possessor of many missile weapons
- Komaari – The beautiful adolescent
- Ekakanya – The girl child
- Kaishori – The adolescent
- Yuvati – The Woman
- Yati – Ascetic, one who renounces the world
- Apraudha – One who never gets old
- Praudha – One who is old
- Vriddhamaata – The old mother (loosely)
- Balaprada – The bestower of strength
- Mahodari – One who has huge belly which stores the universe
- Muktakesha – One who has open tresses
- Ghorarupa – Having a fierce outlook
- Mahaabala – Having immense strength
- Agnijwaala – One who is poignant like fire
- Raudramukhi – One who has a fierce face like destroyer Rudra
- Kaalaratri – Goddess who is black like night
- Tapasvini – one who is engaged in penance
- Narayani – The destructive aspect of Lord Narayana (Brahma)
- Bhadrakaali Fierce form of Kali
- 99. Vishnumaya Spell of Lord Vishnu
- Jalodari – Abode of the ethereal universe
- Shivadooti – Ambassador of Lord Shiva
- Karaali – The Violent
- Ananta – The Infinite
- Parameshvari – The Ultimate Goddess
- Katyayani -One who is worshipped by sage Katyanan
- Savitri – Daughter of the Sun God Savitr
- Pratyaksha – One who is real
- Brahmavaadini One who is present everywhere
- 08/18/13–21:10: How Maa Durga became Mahisasura Mardini
Long ago in a time not so different from now, the mighty Asura king Mahishasura was granted the boon of immortality by Shiva, through extreme tapasya and prolonged meditation. Shiv Ji was so pleased with Mahishasura’s devotion, that he blessed him with eternal life, declaring that no man, beast, demon or deity would ever be able to kill him.
Mahishasura’s father, Rambha and his brother Karambha, had also both been great tapasvis. Rambha had done tapasya to Agni Dev, sitting amidst five sacred fires on the banks of the river Indus, he performed the Panchagni sacrifice. Karambha did his austerities standing neck-deep in the Sindu river to please and receive the blessings of Varuna Dev.
Indra, the king of Gods, realizing the feat of the two Asuras, felt threatened by their intense austerities and decided to kill them both. He took the form of a crocodile, slipped into the waters, grabbed Karambha’s feet, pulled him under and killed him.
When Indra tried to kill Rambha, he was saved by Agni because of his intense devotion. Rambha realizing his brothers death increased the intensity of his austerities and was given several boons, most importantly the boon that he could not be killed by any human, God or Asura – demon.
Empowered with his boons, Rambha began a rampage of fear and destruction, killing all living beings to cross his path. One day, roaming the garden of Yaksha, he met the beautiful female-buffalo Mahishi – who was actually the princess Shyamala, cursed to be a buffalo– and fell in love. Rambha, in an expression of love, transformed himself into a male-buffalo and seduced Mahishi. But all too soon a real buffalo discovered Rambha and being without protection against animals, killed him.
Through their union, Mahishi became pregnant and at Rambha’s funeral rites, threw herself into the funeral pyre. Out of the flames sprang a mighty beast with the head of a buffalo and the body of a human. This was Mahishasura.
Mahishasura, having received Shiva’s boon, now considered himself invincible and started a reign of terror and conquest of the three lokas. Slaying and killing mercilessly, he and his army of demons soon conquered earth, and set their eyes upon Devaloka, the abode of the Devas. Mahishasura attacked the Gods, and in a feroscious battle seized Devaloka, driving out Indra and the Devas. He grabed the throne of Indra and declared himself to be the new ruler.
The Devas hurried to seek the aid of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who were not pleased to hear of Mahishasura’s deeds. The stories of Mahishasura’s violent conquest enraged the three to such a degree that a light of anger sprang out of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The display of anger from the three sent out a light, which illuminated the three worlds and combined to take the beautiful form of the Goddess Durga.
Mahishasura in his arrogance had not considered that a woman could be of any threat, but Shiva, having given Mahishasura his boon, knew that he was only protected against animals, men and Gods, and that a woman, a Devi, with the boons and powers of the three would be able to slay the demon and restore balance and prosperity to the worlds.
When Mahishasura saw Durga on the battlefield, he fell in love instantly, enthralled by her beauty, he proposed to marry her. Durga agreed, but on one condition, Mahishasura would have to defeat her in battle.
Then began a fierce battle between the two and their armies of Devas and Asuras, the fighting continued for nine days and nights with much gore and destruction. Finally on the tenth day, Durga had the upper hand and Mahishasura, desperately trying to avoid defeat, transformed into a wild buffalo. Durga pinned him to the ground with her left leg, Mahishasura shapeshifted back to his human form and leapt up. Durga pierced his chest with her trishul and swiftly beheaded Mahishasura with her sword, liberating both man and Gods of the terrible demon and restoring peace and balance to the worlds.
Thus Durga was given the name Mahishasura Mardini, the slayer of Mahishasura.
- 08/20/13–23:06: 9 Different Forms of Durga
As the ten-armed Goddess, Goddess Durga presents a radiantly beautiful form that is bewitching to behold. That special form is somehow simultaneously wrathful and benign and transmits profound spiritual teachings in an exacting manner. The nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu Calendar and is hence the most celebrated time of the year as Durga Puja. The nine different forms of Devi are worshiped over the nine days. These are the most popular forms under which she is worshiped:
Durga Shailputri (Daughter of Mountain)
She is a daughter of Himalaya and first among nine Durgas. In previous birth she was the daughter of Daksha. Her name was Sati – Bhavani. i.e. the wife of Lord Shiva. Once Daksha had organized a big Yagna and did not invite Shiva. But Sati being obstinate, reached there. Thereupon Daksha insulted Shiva. Sati could not tolerate the insult of husband and burnt herself in the fire of Yagna. In other birth she became the daughter of Himalaya in the name of Parvati – Hemvati and got married with Shiva. As per Upnishad she had torn and the egotism of Indra, etc. Devtas. Being ashamed they bowed and prayed that, “In fact, thou are Shakti, we all – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiv are capable by getting Shakti from you.”
The second Durga Shakti is Brahamcharini. Brahma that is who observes penance(tapa) and good conduct. Here “Brahma” means “Tapa”. The idol of this Goddess is very gorgeous. There is rosary in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand. She is full with merriment. One story is famous about her. In previous birth she was Parvati Hemavati the daughter of Himvan. Once when she was busy in games with her friends. Naradaji came to her and predicted seeing her Palm-lines that, “You will get married with a naked-terrible ‘Bhole baba’ who was with you in the form of Sati, the daughter of Daksh in previous birth. But now you have to perform penance for him.” There upon Parvati told her mother Menaka that she would marry none except Shambhu, otherwise she would remain unmarried. Saying this she went to observe penance. That is why her name is famous as tapacharini – Brahmacharini. From that time her name Uma became familiar.
The name of third Shakti is Chandraghanta. There is a half-circular moon in her forehead. She is charmful and bright. She is Golden color. She has three eyes and ten hands holding with ten types of swords – etc. weapons and arrows etc. She is seated on Lion and ready for going in war to fight. She is unprecedented image of bravery. The frightful sound of her bell terrifies all the villains, demons and danavas.
Name of fourth Durga is Kushmanda. The Shakti creates egg, ie. Universe by mere laughing .She resides in solar systems. She shines brightly in all the ten directions like Sun. She has eight hands. Seven types of weapons are shining in her seven hands. Rosary is in her right hand. She seems brilliant riding on Lion. She likes the offerings of “Kumhde.” Therefore her name “Kushmanda” has become famous.
Fifth name of Durga is “Skanda Mata”. The daughter of Himalaya, after observing penance got married with Shiva. She had a son named “Skanda.” Skanda is a leader of the army of Gods. Skanda Mata is a deity of fire. Skanda is seated in her lap. She has three eyes and four hands. She is white and seated on a lotus.
Sixth Durga is Katyayani. The son of “Kat” as “Katya”. Rishi Katyayan born in this “Katya” lineage. Katyayan had observed penance with a desire to get paramba as his daughter. As a result she took birth as a daughter of Katyayan. Therefore her name is “Katyayani” . She has three eyes and eight hands. These are eight types of weapons missiles in her seven hands. Her vehicle is Lion.
Seventh Durga is Kalratri. She is black like night. Durga hairs are unlocked. She has put on necklaces shining like lightening. She has three eyes which are round like universe. Her eyes are bright. Thousands of flames of fire come out while respiring from nose. She rides on Shava (dead body). There is sharp sword in her right hand. Her lower hand is in blessing mood. The burning torch (mashal) is in her left hand and her lower left hand is in fearless style, by which she makes her devotees fearless. Being auspicious she is called “Shubhamkari.”
The Eighth Durga is “Maha Gauri.” She is as white as a conch, moon and Jasmine. She is of eight years old. Her clothes and ornaments are white and clean. She has three eyes. She rides on bull She has four hands. The above left hand is in “Fearless – Mudra” and lower left hand holds “Trishul.” The above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing style. She is calm and peaceful and exists in peaceful style. It is said that when the body of Gauri became dirty due to dust and earth while observing penance, Shiva makes it clean with the waters of Gangas. Then her body became bright like lightening. There fore, she is known as “Maha Gauri” .
Ninth Durga us Siddhidatri. There are eight Siddhis , they are- Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva & Vashitva. Maha Shakti gives all these Siddhies. It is said in “Devipuran” that the Supreme God Shiv got all these Siddhies by worshipping Maha Shakti. With her gratitude the half body of Shiv has became of Goddess and there fore his name “Ardhanarishvar” has became famous. The Goddess drives on Lion. She has four hands and looks pleased. This form of Durga is worshiped by all Gods, Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Yogis, Sadhakas and devotees for attaining the best religious asset.
- 08/06/13–18:31: Durga Puja countdown clock
- 08/27/13–23:03: Breathing life into the Goddess
In the first decade of the 18th century most of Calcutta was still a jungle. Amidst the swamps and paddy fields lived fishermen who set up small markets on raised patches of land called dehis. The city of Calcutta covers an area once occupied by three villages. To the north were the villages of Sutanuti and Dihi, while to the south was the village of Govindapur where the British established Fort William. Sutanuti was probably a cotton market and made rapid progress with Burrabazar at its centre supplying the British with provisions. As the British East India Company grew it attracted the services of wealthy Bengali businessmen. Holwell, an agent of the Company, divided the steadily-growing town into a number of quarters named according to the business conducted in each quarter. It is at this time that we hear of Kumartuli or the quarter (tola) of the potters (kumars). These kumars or potters have been engaged in the business of making the clay images of the multitude of Gods and Goddesses that we worship through generations. The tradition of clay image making in West Bengal probably has its origins in a medival village tradition but it was during the 18th and the 19th century that clay image making became established as the distinctive feature of Bengali culture that is seen today. Bengal specializes in preserving this age old tradition. Unmatched skills come to limelight during the festive season of Durga Puja
- 09/05/13–00:24: Best Durga Puja Pandals in Town
Famous Kolkata Durga Puja Pandals
Durga Puja has traditionally been the most popular as well as the most-celebrated festival of West Bengal in general, and Kolkata in particular. During the festival, almost thousands of enormously-decorated pandals with the idols of goddess Durga dot the streets of the city. People visit all famous Kolkata Durga Puja Pandals late into nights during all 4-days of the festival to further enjoy the all-round festivities.
Around two thousands pandals are set up across the city, but some of them really stand out for their grandeur, decoration, tradition and charm. More so, pandals with the best decoration, best idol’s design and great art work compete for prizes at stake. Some of the most famous Kolkata Durga Puja Pandals are listed below:
Bagbazar in North Kolkata, around a century old, is ranked among the oldest and traditional Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata, which attracts a huge crowd each year for its dual exhibition of gorgeous idol of Goddess Durga as well as of tradition and culture.
Kumartuli Park in North Kolkata is not as old as many others, but it has become popular for being in the area where Durga idols are handcrafted professionally.
College Square in Central Kolkata stands out for its picturesque setting, as the pandal is set-up around a lake, and the whole area goes enormously illuminated for the festival duration.
Mohammad Ali Park
Mohammad Ali Park in Central Kolkata is set up in a large park, which invites a huge crowd for its elaborate and attention-grabbing display.
Santosh Mitra Square
Santosh Mitra Square in Central Kolkata is just a decade-and-half old, and it mesmerises the guests for its remarkable art work.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Badamtala Ashar Sangha in South Kolkata features among the oldest and famous Kolkata Durga Pandals, and it now prides for winning an award in 2010 for creative excellence.
Suruchi Sangha in South Kolkata is known for its annual exhibition of idols, modelled on the look and design of goddess Durga in different states of India. In 2003 and 2009, it won award respectively for best-decorated pandal and exquisite artwork.
Ekdalia Evergreen in South Kolkata, at Gariahat, is among the famous Kolkata Durga Puja pandals for exhibiting splendid replicas of temples from across India.
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir
Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir in South Kolkata is known for winning many awards on the basis of its unique themes, displayed almost each year.
Jodhpur Park in South Kolkata is ranked among the most popular pandals in the city for its continuous display of vast and varied themes each year
- 09/05/13–00:30: Red Carpet Durga Puja 2013
There are literally thousands of Kolkata Durga Puja pandals but some stand out more than others, as a result of their enchanting decorations. Every year they contend to surpass each other with the most intricate and innovative themes. Durga Puja which is a principal festival during Navratri is celebrated with much gaiety and devotion in the city through public ceremonies. It is during this fine occasion, huge Pandals are erected at various places of the city for housing large idols of Maa Durga. The devotees turn up in large numbers to worship Goddess Durga. This year at over 550 places ‘Maa Ka Darbar’ would be set up at different places in the city.
Durga Puja festival marks the triumph of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival exemplifies the victory of Good over Evil. It is not only the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the state, it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali Hindu society. The prominence of Durga Puja amplified gradually during the British Raj in Bengal. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the tradition of Baroyari or Community Puja was popularised due to this. In Bengal, Durga Puja is also known Akalbodhan, Sharadiya Pujo, Sharadotsav or Maha Pujo. Today’s Puja, however, goes far beyond religion. The music, dancing, and art displayed and performed during the Durga puja played an integral part in connecting the community in Bengal, and eventually across India and the world today. Initially the Puja was organised by affluent families since they had the money to organise the festival. Pujas in Calcutta and elsewhere experiment with ground-breaking concepts every year. Communities have created prizes for Best Pandal, Best Puja, and other categories. Pandals and idols inspired by a particular theme have been the hallmark of many community or Sarbajanin Pujas in Kolkata since the 1990s. Puja committees decide on a particular theme, whose elements are incorporated into the pandal and the idols. The design and decoration is usually done by art and architecture students based in the city. The budget required for such theme-based pujas is often higher than traditional pujas. They attract crowds and are well received.
This year Durga Puja in Kolkata is ready to disseminate the much more creativity, decoration, added services, cultural messages and many more extravagant things among the populace. Geographical area of Durga Puja is basically categorized into North Kolkata, South Kolkata and Saltlake area. Some of the famous pujas of North Kolkata are Telengabagan, Sreebhumi, Kumartoli, Laketown Notun Polli Pradip Sangha, College Square, Chaltabagan, Sealdah Athletic Club, Santosh Mitra Sqaure etc. In South Kolkata, the famous are Mudiali, Kasba Bosepukur, Dhakuria Babubagan, Ekdalia Evergreen Club, Park Circus Athletic Club, Maddox Square etc. And in Saltlake, FD Block Durga Puja is the most popular among all. All the above mentioned venues will showcase their pandals and idols in a distinctive way.
Now we shall lob light on the themes of Durga Puja 2013 in a transitory manner and of course herein we will mention only few themes which are definitely pulsating in the minds of the people. This year Kankurgachi, Bagha Jatin Club will decorate Debi Durga with ancient arms of India and thereby the members are entrusted with the responsibility to collect those arms. And Naktala Udayan Sangha will create their goddess with various stones. Installation and fresco artist Jean-Xavier Renaud, who lives and works in Hauteville, France, will join forces with local artist Gopal Poddar to create the pandal and idol for the Pallimangal SamityDurga Puja on the ground adjoining EDF in south Kolkata’s Jodhpur Park locality. , it is Alliance Francaise du Bengale that is driving this year’s project. Alliance Francaise will fund the Rs. 40 lakhs project. The theme of the Pallimangal Samity puja is tentatively titled ‘Cannes to Kolkata’ celebrates the centenary year of Indian cinema. Three Pakistani artists Haidar Ali, Mumtaz Ahmed & Md. Iqbal will decorate the Hatibagan Nabinpalli pandal with their exclusive ‘truck art’ this Puja. Truck art is a Peshawari art form of Pakistan where stunning landscapes, colorful floral patterns, portraits of national heroes, famous actors of Pakistan and India, calligraphic poetry and religious stanzas are painted on trucks, which take goods from one city to another.
Lake Town’s Sree Bhumi Sporting Club is poised to explode this Durga Puja as revelers queue up to view the biggest-ever public exhibition of gold ornaments. The pandal will transform into an exhibition hall with gods and goddesses sporting jewellery worth Rs. 4 crores and these gold ornaments will be sponsored by Tanishq (Tata group).The puja pandal will also be golden, a replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda and stupa in Yangon.
Furthermore, we will come up with more stirring stuffs of Durga Puja 2013 in this blog. So we expect and wishing you all prosperous Durga Puja this year.
- 09/06/13–03:01: Red Carpet of Kolkata Durga Pooja 2013
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