Picture Courtesy: wallpapergang.com
Walk into any of the lanes or by-lanes of Kolkata at this time of the year, and the unmistakable smell of Shiuli phool is sure to leave you enchanted. Chances are likely, that, you will be greeted by the picturesque sight of a line of ‘Kans grass’ (‘Kaansh phool’, to be more specific), that seem to be awaiting the arrival of Maa Durga and her children. Preparations for the festival kick-start almost a month before the actual date. Temporary structures called ‘pandals’ are in the making- starting from the simple, colourful cloth ones to the opulent ‘theme pandals’ which depict contemporary issues of importance and showcase the immense talent and creativity of humble artisans.
For a person born and brought up in the City of Joy, the words ‘Durga Puja’ trigger innumerable memories that are close to my heart. Even though I might sound boastful, it is a fact, that, Durga Puja is unlike any other festival celebrated in any part of the world. Celebrated to mark the victory of Good over Evil, Durga Puja truly unites people of all religions, caste and creed- a festival so all-encompassing, so all-inclusive; a festival that magically manages to place everyone on the same pedestal forgetting the superficial differences and barriers that usually divide people.
With less than two weeks to go for the Pujas, I can’t wait to have my dress code ready for the fun five days! For someone, seen mostly roaming around in casual tees and denims, I’ve decided to go all traditional for a change, in keeping with the religious fervor! And thankfully, with LimeRoad offering me a wide range of traditional Bengali drapes at the click of a button, I am pretty sure of getting it right this Puja!
1. For Shasthi, the sixth day of the festival, that marks the formal beginning of the Pujas in Bengal with the unveiling of the face of the idol of Maa Durga, I have chosen to keep my attire simple, with an Indo-Western twist however!
Cut from cotton to give a defining silhouette, this long skirt features hand-blocked motifs and delicate zari work. Accentuated by red and gold borders, this navy blue piece features fabric drawstrings with hanging zari balls and a side zipper that ensures perfect fit. Pair it with a body-hugging tank top and a necklace-scarf and I am all set to go pandal-hopping!
2. Saptami, the seventh day, heralds the true beginning of the most awaited festival, with the performance of the Pranpratishtha ritual ( awakening of the spirit of Maa Durga).
For Saptami evening, I have specially selected this traditional drape that has been handpicked and curated especially from Kolkata, renowned all over the world for its artistic heritage. Crafted in Bengal’s famous Dhakai Jamdaani, this vibrant magenta and white saree features buti work all over and traditional Kalka (paisley) border. With a little help from my mother, I’m hoping to drape it in traditional Bengali style!
3. Ashtami, the eighth day is the day of primary importance, which starts off with devotees offering Pushpanjali to the Goddess amidst the chanting of verses by the priests. Sandhi Puja is conducted in the evening and this important ritual paves way to the beginning of Navami.
For morning Anjali on Ashtami, I can look no further beyond this Cream Gacchi Tusshar Saree. Crafted in Gachhi Tusshar, this elegant piece features traditional nakshi kantha (traditional needle art of Bengal whereby a story is told through the medium of stitches) work all over in maroon and sap green and comes with a matching blouse piece.
4. Navami, the ninth day, marks the penultimate day of the Pujas. As per mythology, Goddess Durga annhiliated and eradicted evil by killing the demon Mahishashura on this very day and hence, Navami also marks the day when Durga is worshipped as Mahishahuramardini.
For late-night pandal hopping on Navami, I’ve handpicked this red Chikankari suit piece set that will keep me at ease while jostling my way through the maddening crowd.
Crafted in red cotton voile, this semi-sheer, unstitched suit is intricately embroidered with floral motifs with the traditional shadow technique of Chikankari (bakhiya, panda & keel kangan) and enriched with mokaish work. Complete with a bordered dupatta, styled with gold butis, and a matching churidar piece, this one makes for a truly festive choice.
5. Dashami, signifies the last day of the Pujas, when devotees bid farewell to the Goddess with a heavy heart. The married women perform Devi-Boron by offering sweets and betel leaf and smear the Goddess with traditional sindoor, following which , the idols are taken for immersion in the holy Ganges.
What could be a better pick for Dashami than a traditional red and white saree? Crafted in resham, this vibrant piece features a temple Gheecha border and a simple striped aanchal. Procured all the way from Kolkata, it truly makes for an ideal choice to celebrate the last day of the Pujas in true Bengali style.
Now that you know where to find the most beautiful of Bengali drapes online, go flaunt your ethnic best this festive season and share your winning look with us! We’d love to hear from you. Happy Durga Puja