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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

Last updated on: September 19, 2011 10:17 IST

IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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For the devotees of Maa Durga across the globe, the wait is almost over. But in Her 'home state' West Bengal, preparations for the most awaited 10 days of the year are progressing on a war footing.

Photographer Dipak Chakroborty traverses the by lanes of Kolkata to get a sense of the preparations days before Durga Pujo, 2011.

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Image: Artists at Kumartuli preparing thermocol decorations for Durga idols and pandals
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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While organisers of the Sarbojonin Durga Puja pandals are burning the midnight oil to ensure that this year's festival goes glitch-free, some immensely-talented artists/sculptors in the state are giving the final touches to the most revered 'protima' or idols of Maa Durga.


Image: Artist Indrajit Paul of Kumartuli giving the final touches to an idol
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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In this year's Durga Puja, Maha Shashti, or the sixth day of the celebrations fall on October 2. The celebrations  will continue till October 6 -- the Maha Dashami or Bijoya Dashami day.

Although festivities begin on the Mahalaya day (which falls on September 27 this year) and continue for the next 10 days, the tempo of festivities escalates during the last six days.


Image: An artist busy decorating the pandal of the 74 Pally Sarbojonin Durgotsab in Kolkata
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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The entire process of creation of the idols from the collection of clay to the ornamentation is a holy process, supervised by rites and other rituals.

On the day Akshaya Tritiya when the Ratha Yatra is held, clay for the idols is collected from the banks of a river, preferably the Ganga.


Image: Another idol of Maa Durga being decorated by an artist in Kolkata
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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After the required rites, the clay is transported from which the idols are fashioned. An important event is 'Chakkhu Daan', literally donation of the eyes.

Starting with Devi Durga, the eyes of the idols are painted on Mahalaya or the first day of the Pujas. Before painting on the eyes, the artisans fast for a day and eat only vegetarian food.


Image: After the required rites, the clay is transported from which the idols of Maa Durga are fashioned
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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Many Pujas in and around Kolkata buy their idols from Kumartuli, an artisans' town in north Kolkata.

Pandals and idols inspired by a particular theme have been the hallmark of many community or Sarbajanin Pujas in West Bengal since the 1990s. Puja committees decide on an innovative theme, whose elements are incorporated into the pandal and the idols.


Image: Kumartuli artists busy creating the wondeful accessories which further beautify Maa Durga's idol and the pandal
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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IN PHOTOS: Kolkata all set for Durga Pujo

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Popular themes include ancient civilizations like the Egyptians or Incas. Contemporary subjects like the Titanic and 'Harry Potter' have also been the subject in some pandals.

The design and decoration is usually done by skilled artists. They attract crowds and are well-received. Competition among different pandals also adds up to the festive fervour.


Image: The famous Jodhpur Park puja pandal in Kolkata is all set to impress upon devotees this year as well
Photographs: Dipak Chakroborty
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