Beauty and Chaos

“Beauty and Chaos”  – one way to describe that which is Durga Puja!

We heard this phrase first from photographer Dev Nayak,  when Stan and I met him while undergoing some serious “pandal-hopping” with Partha Dey in South Kolkata.  Dev’s actually comment was, “Beauty and chaos, in India you can’t have one without the other!”

It’s Monday evening, the day before Durga Puja celebrations are in full force for the next five days.  Even so, as the evening progresses, the streets began to swell with people eager to preview this year’s creations.  Pandals (the name for the structures that are build to house the Durga Puja sculptures) are everywhere, in the numerous parks, jutting out into the street, tucked into every possible nook and cranny.

DSC_0316

This most spectacular of spectacles could be likened to a combination of Disney World, Las Vegas, and Burning Man (sans nudity).  We saw everything from the grandest commercial extravaganzas to tiny, lovingly heartfelt private family shrines (the truth: these are my faves).  The estimate that I’d heard several times was upwards of 15000 Durga images in Kolkata alone!  Most pandals are sponsored by clubs and other local community organizations, with some sponsorship from local businesses.

DSC_0288

The biggest, most elaborate pandals usually have snagged big corporate sponsorships, are themed, and often have renowned artists and designers at their organizational helms.  The planning for next year’s big-budget pandals begins almost immediately after the prior year’s celebrations!  There are also many sponsored pandal contests, with celebrities and other prominent personages as their judges.  At the heart of each pandal, somewhere within, often underneath a plethora of clothing, hair, props, and other decorations, are the clay, straw, and bamboo figures that brought me to Kolkata.

Enough chatter for the moment, yes?  Time to show you some pics!

DSC_0256

Enter into a giant lotus with whirling imagery

DSC_0269

DSC_0275

DSC_0276

Durga looms above it all

DSC_0248Insanely crafted, metal leaf-covered Buddhist temple-inspired pandal

DSC_0246

DSC_0232

A glimpse of a golden Durga inside

DSC_0229

 Below is a pandal dedicated to late Bollywood actress Suchitra Sen, who died earlier this year.DSC_0065_01

DSC_0070_01

DSC_0067_01

DSC_0190

A smaller, but charming pandal with figurative columns

DSC_0204

DSC_0203

I’ve been enjoying the chandeliers of each pandal – they are often over the top!

DSCN3527

 Community-sponsored pandal

DSC_0148_01

DSC_0158_01

Walkway towards family puja pandal of a very sweet and welcoming retired doctor.

DSC_0111_01

His Durga pandal is below.

 DSC_0098_01

And below is an example of some of the fabulously creative decorated walkways intended to entice viewers towards a pandal

DSCN3408

More Durga Puja tomorrow……

Comment (1)

  • Wimpernserum kaufen

    September 4, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    I savour, result in I discovered just what I used to
    be having a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *