"The myth of the Pujas is a simple one – full of rural sweetness. ... The Pujas are, in part, an ever-returning homage to that magical sense of being rescued, so indispensable to children." -Amit Chaudhuri, Calcutta: Two Years in the City.
Perhaps, it would be apt to assert that every Calcuttan's favourite time of the year is Autumn- it is then that Durga Puja is celebrated with unparalleled enthusiasm and gusto! Temporary pandals, both grandiose and humble, home unique idols of Goddess Durga and her entourage. According to Hindu mythology, a shapeshifting demon, Mahishasur, or the buffalo demon, had received a boon from Brahma that no man could kill him. The proud demon then started creating havoc. It is then that all the gods came together and created a goddess who would be the nemesis of Mahishasur. This goddess, Durga Ma, equipped with the most effective weapons of all the gods, battled with Mahishasur for ten days and defeated him, thus, earning the epithet- Mahishasur Mardini (The Slayer of the Buffalo Demon). The idols of the goddesses and gods are fashioned in 'kumartoli'. Lightings, streetfood, and everything fun, vibrant and aesthetic fill the city. At the end of the ten days of Pujo, Ma and her family return to Kailash, leaving the people of the 'City of Joy' with the hope- "Asche Bochor Abar Hobe!" (Pujo will be celebrated again next year). These photographs have been generously contributed by my professor- Trithankar Sen Gupta.
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