Durga Pujo in Kolkata is the greatest show on Earth. And that would still be an understatement.

Durga Pujo in Kolkata is better than Diwali in Delhi, the Carnival in Rio, New Years’ Eve at Times Square and believe me, this is not just the rant of a sentimental Bong.

I remember the Durga Pujo of my childhood. Oh, did I tell you? We call it Pujo and not Puja here, in keeping with the Bengali spelling and script.

So, The Pujo Of My Childhood…

It started with Half-Yearly examinations and I am serious. When we took our exams, every Bong knew that at the end of this torture there is the shining beacon of that greatest show on Earth called Durga Pujo.

The frenzy used to reach a peak with Mahalaya. And the new garments, oh those beautiful things!

Durga Pujo In Kolkata
The ‘Ekchaalas’ of my childhood.

There used to be competitions among the best of mates regarding the number of clothes each of us got. But only the number, mind you. Never the brand.

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The concept of branded clothing did not exist. Pujo shopping was incomplete if you didn’t haggle at the stores, if you didn’t squeeze out that last 10 rupees discount from the shopkeeper for that shoe, if you didn’t fight for your favourite shade of nail polish with at least five other females.

The Pujo passed in a daze. A daze of eating, roaming, getting jostled amongst countless human heads, staring awestruck at the lighting showing the Rajdhani Express accident.

But, then I grew up. And my dear city grew up too.

Durga Pujo In Kolkata Leaves Me Feeling Too Old Now

My Kolkata is posh and polished now. My Kolkata has Starbucks, Hard Rock Café, Gucci stores.

Durga Pujo in Kolkata has also evolved.

Now, there is no last minute Pujo shopping. My Pujo shopping is already done. No, not from my childhood stores because hey, they don’t sell branded stuff. Wearing Vero Moda and H&M makes me socially acceptable now. So, I only shop from international stores.

Everyday is a shopping festival now. Even January.

Also, the concept of Pujo shopping is almost obsolete now. Apparel stores are showering discounts on us every day of the year. Why would I wait for Pujo to wear new clothes?

A little voice inside me replies longingly, “Vero Moda and H&M cannot make you as happy as those simple non branded  frocks of your childhood.”

But to be socially acceptable, I firmly ignore the voice.

Aaamar Shohor‘ Is A Blur Of Banners

Kolkata is one of the few metropolitan cities in the world where you can see the sky. To a Bengali, the pristine blue October sky with cotton wisps of the cloud is fondly called ‘shoroter aakash‘.

Durga Pujo In Kolkata now: a blur of banners hiding the sky.

Since the past 6-7 years, I have been unable to find such a sky in Kolkata. Often times I have looked up at the skies during Pujo only to be met with fake smiles of sickeningly pretty poster girls staring out of the multitude of banners.

Deodorants, electric wires, sarees,  cosmetics, electrical appliances… my city looks like a gigantic trade fair more than an actual Pujo.

Actually, it is these banners which announce the arrival of Pujo more than Mahalaya. Discounts in shopping malls announce Pujo nowadays. Celebrities posing for selfies in various “Khuti Pujos” announce Pujo nowadays.

The more celebrities you bring to your Khuti Pujo, the more footfall your actual Pujo is likely to have.

The Pujo proper passes in a haze of eating, drinking and partying for many youngsters in Kolkata. Yes, we eat, drink and party on other days of the year and also during Durga Pujo.

Somewhere in the midst of all this polish, Durga Pujo in Kolkata seems to have lost its true spirit.

I don’t know if this is good or bad, but this is most certainly different. In the age of commercialization, we have successfully managed to convert Durga Pujo into a huge corporate festival where enjoyment is decided by discounts and banners.

Yet, ‘Aamar Shohor’ thrives as I hope it will do for years to come.

Happy Pujo and happy realization to all!

Image credits: Google

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