Every year, the Keral Banga Samskriti Sangha, the cultural association of Bengalis settled in Cochin, celebrates Durga Puja in grand style. I spent my entire boyhood in Calcutta, and I can imagine the scenes in that great city during the puja season, which is currently under way: beautifully decorated idols and pandhals, people out in the streets dressed in their best clothes, smiles on their faces and cares forgotten. I try and visit the Durga puja celebrations here in Cochin when I can, to reconnect with my boyhood memories and also to hear some spoken Bengali.
Durga Puja, which signifies the victory of good over evil, will be celebrated at Rabindra Bhavan, the association headquarters in Gandhi Nagar, Sidco Road (Maveli Road), from October 20th to 24th. There will be all kinds of religious and cultural programs at the venue on these five days. All are welcome to visit, linger, and imbibe a sample of the famed festival spirit that suffuses Calcutta during the puja season. Contact the association at 9633021901or 9895721519 for further details.
I took a few photos of the preparations at the venue. The top photo shows finishing touches being given to the Goddess Durga by artisans brought from West Bengal. The idol below is ready to go.
These are the little knickknacks used to decorate the idols.
More decorative items are seen above in a just-unpacked suitcase. To the right of the suitcase is the bottom part of the idol of Goddess Kali, whose foot can be seen resting on the chest of her consort, Lord Shiva. How that came to be is a story in itself, a story that also explains why the goddess’s tongue is usually shown sticking out of her mouth. It seems the goddess, during a battle against the forces of evil, got carried away and began indiscriminately destroying everything in sight. Her consort, Lord Shiva, threw himself at her feet in desperation to shock her into halting her carnage. The ploy worked. So astounded was the goddess to see her consort beneath her feet that her tongue shot out of her mouth in amazement, and that is how she is usually depicted in puja pandhals.