Durga Puja 2022 | Kolkata pulls out all stops to restore pre-pandemic festive shine

Durga Puja’s addition to UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage” has added to the celebrations this year

September 05, 2022 12:06 pm | Updated 12:06 pm IST - Kolkata

Festival shoppers throng Kolkata’s New Market area weeks ahead of 2022 Durga Puja Kolkata. The festival is set to return to its usual pomp this year after two years of COVID-19 pandemic

Festival shoppers throng Kolkata’s New Market area weeks ahead of 2022 Durga Puja Kolkata. The festival is set to return to its usual pomp this year after two years of COVID-19 pandemic | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

After two years of restraint, the City of Joy appears to be pulling out all stops to celebrate Durga Puja, which will be celebrated in the first week of October.

Malls and marketplaces are beginning to get packed with shoppers; tailors are suddenly overburdened with orders; almost every evening is witness to a pre-Puja saree exhibition in some part of the city; and Puja committees are making it known in their circulars that celebration would revert to the pre-pandemic scale. To help shoppers, Metro Rail has decided to increase its weekend services between September 3 and 25.

What has sweetened this year’s festivities is the inclusion of Durga Puja in UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage”. The recognition, given last December, was celebrated on Thursday with a carnival led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and attended by UNESCO representatives.

Kumartuli, the artisans’ colony that supplies idols — Goddess Durga and her four children — to the whole of Kolkata, has regained its verve after a dismal two years. “This year, there’s hardly any idol available for sale — everything you see in Kumartuli has already been booked,” said idol-maker Indrajit Pal, who is working on 11 sets of big idols this year, up from eight in 2021.

Artisans aren’t the only ones busy these days. Hema Dhawan, who runs Aashi Boutique in Golf Green, is often returning home from her tailoring workshop at 2.30 in the morning. “I am getting over 500 orders every week. Last year, weekly orders barely crossed 100. I am finding it difficult to cope, but I am not complaining,” said Ms. Dhawan.

All set for splendour

Susmita Das, who recently moved to Kolkata from the US, is not among those to worry about timely delivery of blouses by the tailor. She already has everything ready and planned out to the last detail. “Having spent the past two years finishing my PhD and grieving over lost loved ones during the pandemic, I finally feel like living joyously this Puja. I’ve managed to find five sarees from my wardrobe that are the same colour — midnight blue — but different in style, design, and fabric. The idea is to create a different look each day with sarees of the same colour. I’ve meticulously planned all my blouses and accessories accordingly,” said Ms. Das, who recently earned a doctorate in communications and media.

“Also, a very dear cousin is visiting from Paris. We’ve practically never been in the same city during Puja; so we are planning to get decked out and gallivant around the pandals in our outfits and take tons of photos,” she added.

Salt Lake City-resident Koyel Ghosh is pleased with her participation at a recent exhibition, saying the enthusiasm she witnessed at the event indicated that the city was set to enjoy Durga Puja in its “full charm and vigour”. “We had a larger than expected participation at the exhibition of sarees and accessories organised by Ethnic Haat. It was very satisfying to see women of all ages lost in the midst of sparkling colours, threads, looms and weaves, preparing for a super Puja after two dark years,” Ms. Ghosh said.

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