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.