Kolkata, Sep 30 :
Despite brief showers during the day, thousands in West Bengal indulged in merriment and religiosity as the Durga Puja – the state’s biggest festival, began Tuesday.
The generally five-day carnival, shortened to a four-day affair according to the almanac, is being celebrated across the state with everyone joining in with religious fervour.
They queued up patiently in the cool evening breeze to catch a glimpse of the goddess and her family, represented in innovative ways at various marquees.
In Kolkata, about 2,470 community pujas are being held.
Food kiosks, joyrides and stalls selling souvenirs created a carnival-like atmosphere.
Festooned with lights, giant cardboard cut-outs and clay figures adorn the entrances to lanes. The city is decked up like a bride.
The festival, starting on Shashthi, translates into frenzied pandal-hopping in new clothes, meeting friends and family.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on Shashthi through a Facebook post.
Shashthi also marks the beginning of the puja rituals.
Kalparamvo (the beginning of the puja), Bodhan (the consecration of Durga’s idol), Aamantran (inviting the goddess) and Adhivas (sanctifying the stay of the goddess in the place where the puja is being held) were performed in the marquees and households where the deity is being worshipped.
According to the Ramayana, before attacking Lanka to rescue his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn — a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.
So Lord Rama had to first wake up the goddess prematurely, and as such the awakening in the autumnal festival is called “Akal (untimely) Bodhan” of the goddess.
However, mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of goddess Durga, accompanied by her four children — Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati — to Earth.
The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her 10 hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash on Dashami.
The festival will conclude Friday, when the idols would be immersed by teary-eyed devotees in rivers, lakes and ponds.
Each year, organisers come up with new themes and try to better their previous attempts.
Hundreds thronged the Jodhpur Park community puja in the south of the city which has a put up a digitally sculpted goddess Durga and her family, courtesy the application of 3D printing technology on paper.
The 3D printed idol stands tall at 8.5 foot and 14 foot wide. Visitors were left in awe of the stunning visually dynamic display.
The Unique Park Cultural and Welfare Association at the Behala Unique Park is observing the puja with students of a blind and deaf school (Voice of World) and inmates of the Behala Old Age Home.