Many of our India tours and tour packages enable you to experience fabulous festivals, for which India is famous. One of these is the Durga Puja, which celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. An annual event, held over a period of five days, it is set according to the traditional Hindu calendar and generally takes place in October.
Although celebrated throughout north-eastern India, perhaps the best place to experience Durga Puja is in Kolkata, the goddess’ heartland. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated here, it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali Hindu society comprising days of devotion, revelry and vital cultural and economic activity.
All families are involved, not just in their own celebrations, but also as participants of the collective neighbourhood presentation of the Goddess Durga. These take the form of Pandals, a kind of marquee used to shelter the idol. Thousands spring up throughout the city and every year they compete to outdo each other with the most elaborate and innovative themes.
For a behind the scenes experience of this festival visit Kumartulli, the traditional potters’ quarter in the north of the city, where many of the Durga idols are handcrafted by renowned artisans. A guided walk through the area enables you to observe how these images are crafted and the conditions in which the artisans live and work.
As many of our North India tours begin or end at Kolkata, it is easy to add a couple of days in this city to take in the Durga Puja. Some of these itineraries are North India in Depth, West Bengal, West Bengal and Sikkim and The Best of the East.