Kolkata: The city plunged into the festive spirit on the occasion of ‘Mahasaptami’ on Sunday which marked the second day of the five-day Durga Puja, the biggest festival in West Bengal.
Puja organisers began the day early, taking out banana plantains (symbolising the wife of Ganesha) for a ritual bath at the nearest water bodies, as priests made arrangements for the day’s worship of the Goddess and her celestial family. The ritual is called ‘Nabapatrika snan-o-sthapan’ and many believe this practice is traced to the agrarian society of east India. The Nabapatrika (new leaves) consists of nine banana leaves.
The ‘Kola Bou’, a tender banana plant symbolising a bride, was given a river bath amidst drum beats, wrapped in a sari and placed next to the idol of Ganesha. Through ‘pran pratistha’, the spirit of Durga as a warrior goddess is awakened, and She starts Her battle against the manifestation of all evils in the shape of Mahishasura -the buffalo demon.
After morning rituals, worshippers offered ‘pushpanjali’ (floral libations) to the Goddess amid chanting of mantras later in the day.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greeted all on the occasion.
“Greetings to all on the occasion of Maha Saptami,” Banerjee posted on her social networking page.
The five-day autumn festival is the biggest annual event in this part of the world when even the newspapers shut down and roads are choked with human traffic throughout the day and night.
All decked up and dotted with splendid marquees, the eastern metropolis, as in the past, has welcomed its patron goddess with the beats of dhaak (drums) and aroma of incense.
Thousands of men, women and children are pouring on the streets of Kolkata making rounds of different marquees.
In Kolkata, there are around 2,700 community pujas and 5,000 family pujas. As in earlier years, the organisers have come up with innovative themes, trying to outdo their previous attempts.
The puja celebrations here have acquired a special gloss this year, with the UNESCO in scribing It in its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Though shamiana-hoppers prefer to visit pandals during the night to enjoy the illumination, a large number of revellers took advantage of the clear day to hang around the better-known community puja shamianas and feast their eyes on the decor.