The concept of “Maa Durga” as described in Hinduism, represents personification of “Shakti”, the divine feminine power who controls each and every creation, existence and transformation of the universe. According to Hindu Shastra, a demon named Mahishasura did penance and pleased the Lord Brahma and received a boon, that he would not be killed by any god or man. The Mahishasura thought that only a simple lady could not be the cause of his death, so he has got the power to remain immortal and started disturbing gods and human life with atrocity. Thus to vanquish the demon Mahishasura, all the gods including “Brahma”, “Vishnu” and “Shiva” collected their energies to form a lady named “Durga” to bring tranquility to the universe. Just like Jesus Christ in Christianity, “Durga” is observed as the compassionate saviour of all human beings, gods and the universe, according to the Hinduism. “Durga”, according to Sanskrit language is inexplicable and exists in self-sufficiency and independent in the universe.
“Durga” is honoured with extreme passion at the beginning of Autumn as the Navratri Festival every year. In Sanskrit, Navratri means “nine nights”, and in these nine nights, mother “Durga” is worshipped as 9 different forms of “Shakti”(The Power). Duga’s victory over the evil power is celebrated as “Vijayadashami” in Bengal and within Bengali Community all over the world. The same occasion is celebrated as “Dussehra” in North India to salute Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana which is written in another Indian epic the “Ramayana”. “Vijayadashami” also commemorates Durga to visit her ancestral home with her children, and her returning back to the Himalaya for reunion with her husband “Lord Shiva”.
President of India Mr. Pranab Mukherjee today expressed his opinion that Durga puja is not only a religious programme, it has become a social festival in recent days.
The uniqueness of the Durga Puja is a festival wrapped with secularism and a spectacular mass event. Thousands and lakhs of people enjoy this event from the core of their heart. Since many years, focus is being shifted from the idols inside to pandal structures and lights with spectacular form of art. With the traditional “Ek-chaala”, and idols are expressed with a new way appearance with the help of rural, folk form art. This increasing focus within these Puja Pandal themes to retrieve “dying” categories of rural and folk art forms engaging village craftsmen, artisans from all over India to design and decorate pandals are really commendable.
Durga Puja has become very much popular to substitute urban crafts emporium, where folk arts and crafts are displayed and bought through mixing with various people. Rural and folk art and traditional craft-form of Bengal are being focused since quite a few years like Scroll-paintings, print-making wooden blocks etc. Different craft mediums like clay, wood, bamboo, jute, patachitra, kantha are seen in pandal design. Sometimes an entire paddy field is seen in the heart of a densely populated city.
Durga Puja in Kolkata is entirely a dazzling space to track the changing face of popular metropolitan aesthetic. Consumer tastes and demands are rapidly changing with production and viewership of popular art and craft. Durga puja today represents the most dynamic and creative public visual culture of Kolkata. This high popular aesthetic, engaged with media-publicity, corporate funding, commercial sponsorship etc., is an unassailable part of the Puja phenomenon in Kolkata.