This first day of Durga Puja is also known as Maha Shasthi, and during this day a series of rituals are performed to symbolically awaken Durga.  For more information on the rituals of Durga Puja and their timings, check out or

For today’s pandal-hopping, Stan and I decided to return to Kumartuli, particularly to view the final installation of Dilip-da’s Durga pandal at the Shovabazar Rajbari.

DSC_0005Waiting outside the Rajbari for the pandal viewing to begin later that evening.

DSC_0018First glimpse of Durga

DSC_0319The Durga pandal with all of the clothing, headdresses, jewelry and other props, except – Durga’s hands are yet to be holding their ten weapons.



Here’s the Ganesha, side by side with his earlier photo!

DSC_0115A short distance from the Shovabazar Rajbari was this mountain-themed pandal, studded with giant heads.  A few close-ups follow:




Inside, a contemporary rendition of the Durga scene using near life-sized figures (sadly, some other pandal hoppers’ heads are blocking my view of Kartik and Ganesha).

At the foot of this installation is a tiny traditional Durga pandal.



Around Kumartuli and pretty much everywhere in Kolkata, you will find advertisements using Durga to sell products and services.  These photos show ads selling underwear, health care, and food.




Another lotus-themed pandal!


This Durga has a cartoon-character quality.


DSC_0251   Fabulous chandelier


On our way back to the metro, we stopped to check out one more traditional community pandal, tucked into a lane.  It was full of energetic and exuberant children!   Their Durga is below.



When we peeked into some of the Kumartuli workshops, some image-makers were already hard at work on gigantic pandals for Kali Puja, which takes place in a few weeks’ time.

Comments (2)

  • kriyavidya

    October 9, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Cynthia,
    My name is Vidya, and I am from Melbourne, Australia. I have also spent a lot of time in India, over the last 20 years have been mostly in connection with Bihar School of Yoga. Beyond this, my love for India has always been in Puja and Art. I have always held the dream of spending extended time in Kolkata to work under a Durga Puja Artist. I am very inspired by your Dusty clay diaries, and see you have many connections in this world! I am planning to visit Kolkata again in 2016/17. I would very much appreciate any contacts/connections you might be willing to pass on, or advice to me about this idea. My husband will be studying classical indian music with Debashish Battacharaya in Bassoon , and will be in Kolkata for 4 months. I will be joining him, and hope to find someone to study durga sculpture with. Once again, thank you for your beautiful inspired site and works. Many thanks, Vidya xxxx

    1. Cynthia

      October 10, 2015 at 1:43 am

      Hi Vidya,
      Lucky you to have the opportunity to spend four months in Kolkata! And thank you for your comment about my blog.
      Please contact me through my website email, and we can chat more about your plans.

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