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UNESCO declares Durga Puja a heritage festival, millions celebrate in India

The festival ran from October 1-5, 2022, with events organized by individuals and communities. Puja, which dates back centuries, is still performed at the homes of zamindars or landlords. The deities celebrated remain encrusted in gold, silver, and diamond jewelry.

KOLKATA, West Bengal, India ꟷ Millions of people left their houses this year to view the colorful representations of the Goddess Durga during the country’s 2022 Durga Puja Festival. Images of the Goddess made of clay, metal, and fiberglass rose out of bamboo structures, covered in ornamental materials.

The Durga Puja festival serves as a celebration of conventional culture and humanism. The pandal hoppers (local people who wander from shrine to shrine during the festival season) delighted in the novel themes and distinctive images.

The festival ran from October 1-5, 2022, with events organized by individuals and communities. Puja, which dates back centuries, is still performed at the homes of zamindars or landlords. The deities celebrated remain encrusted in gold, silver, and diamond jewelry.

Preparations for the autumn festival began more than eight months ago. A main attraction this year included a replication of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, built in the Kalyani’s Nadia district. Additional attractions included a 60-foot-tall fiberglass idol at Srirampur in the Hooghly District and an idol sculpted of brass metal in North Kolkata. 

On Dashami, the final day, when the Goddess departs from Earth for her heavenly residence in Kailash, the married ladies congregate in the pandal to apply vermillion to the Goddess’s face and feet with betel leaves and then partake in “sindoor khela” (game of vermillion). The women daub the vermillion on each other’s faces. In order to immerse the deity in the River Ganga, they remove it from the pandal and lower it into the water to the beat of the drum, or Dhak. With the hope that the Goddess will appear again soon, the celebration came to a close.

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Partho Burman is an award-winning independent journalist based in Kolkata, India. He writes inspirational, motivational, and environmental stories.