Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beginning of Puja Season

Durga Puja is one of the most popular festivals in Kolkata, an annual celebration of the goddess Durga. Durga is the mother of Ganesha, a form of the wife of Shiva and is depicted as a warrior with ten arms who rides a lion or a tiger. The Durga Puja will begin on October 5th of this year, but it is also the time of year to pay respect to other gods as well.

Today, the city was celebrating a puja for Viswakarma, the god of engineering. Many cars and taxis were decorated with flowers and banana leaves.

Our engineering and maintenance staff created a puja for the consulate. Hand tools and clippings from around the compound were displayed in front of the deity for blessings. A priest chanted Vedic rituals making sacrificial offerings (such as ghee and oils) in a pit of fire and sprayed holy water on the plant room and heavy duty equipment, including cars, for smooth and efficient functioning throughout the year.

The engineering staff spent time preparing the fruits for the ceremony, including cutting out coconut meat from its shell, cracking fresh water chestnuts and plucking the pulp out of large pommelos. This bounty was then served to the celebrants after the ceremony.

Tomorrow the image of the deity will be taken out for immersion in the river, a ritual dipping.

I also went to a meeting in Salt Lake this afternoon, the high-tech center of Kolkata. There, the puja music was flowing between the IT campuses, Viswakarma was having a great day.


Vims said...

Hi there! I will be making my way to Kolkata in Dec. I am quite excited since I've wanted to go there for a long time.

I spent my third year of law school abroad in Bangalore and have travelled through most of the west coast of India and south India. I am expecting that Kolkata is going to be somewhat different.

Do you have any tips on places I can visit and things that I should do?

Natalie Buda Smith said...

Hi vimaljit! I would like to read your impressions after your visit.

There is a lot to do here. I have only been here two months so far but I recommend:

Mullik Ghat Flower Market
Victoria Memorial
Birla Planetarium
Indian Museum
Marble Palace
Park Street Cemetery
Mother Teresa's Motherhouse
cricket at Eden Gardens
St. John's Church
Tagore's House

Some guide books that I have that are helpful are:

Lonely Plant Northeast India
Times Food Guide: Kolkata 2008
A Jaywalker's Guide to Calcutta

If you can not find them before you leave, stop by Oxford Bookstore in the busy block on Park Street next to Park Hotel, when you get here.

Do you use I find it to be very helpful for travel around India.

December will be a very nice time of the year.

Have fun and best of luck with your degree!

Vanessa said...

Hello! Your blog is interesting. Durga puja is celebrated in our home. So when I read your blog that time I was very excited about these festivals. From some years I am not able participate the Durga Puja. May be in this year I will miss my favorite festivals. In Viswakarma puja we played Kite flying (Ghuri Orano ) this play is very interesting.