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Durga Puja 2023, Grand Celebrations in Kolkata

Published on: October 5, 2023

Durga Puja or Durga Pooja in Kolkata is a splendid affair that you might like to experience when you stay with us at The Oberoi Grand. Durga Puja celebrations this year begins from Friday, 20th October until Tuesday, 24th October. The Durga Puja calendar is eagerly awaited by local residents, domestic and international visitors to Kolkata, with participants in the parades spending months designing, planning and preparing their pandals for the celebrations. During this time, everything else in Kolkata gets put on pause as the entire city celebrates the victory of the Hindu Goddess Durga over an evil, shape-shifting demon. Should you be planning on travelling to Kolkata for business during this time, you would be best to rethink your dates. Please contact our concierge for advice and assistance with your hotel booking and transport around this time.

For those reading this who know little about the Durga Puja celebration in Kolkata, the festival itself spans ten days, of which the latter five days are performed with the most public pomp and grandeur. Over the first half of the festival, friends and family meet in each other’s houses to share gifts, eat together and pray. The last five Durga Puja dates see festivities move outside and into the streets for processions, performances, music and general revelry. During the latter half of the festival, Durga Puja Kolkata pandals, a kind of ornate, brightly coloured, hand-made pavilion, are paraded around almost every street in every locality. These depict the Goddess Durga triumphing in her battle against the demon in its various forms. However, these are often adapted into battle scenes from other stories – be it alien invasions, dinosaurs or more contemporary global and environmental issues. Over the years, these have included sex work and trans rights, folk culture, women’s rights and the celebration of cinema. All of which ring true for a State that has always been known for its political activism and intellectual debate of controversial issues, as well as being the artistic and cultural hotbed of India.

For the public parades, vast amounts of money are spent by communities, politicians and local business on the pandals, which compete against each other to win attractive prizes from corporate sponsors. It is believed that as far back as the 16th century, pandals were similarly awarded by Indian royalty and wealthy families. Over the centuries, the popularity and fame of these celebrations have grown. So much so that thousands of visitors now flood to experience Durga Pooja in Kolkata each year; to revel in the non-stop show, fuelling themselves with food and drinks sold from street stalls, 24 hours a day over the 5 days. The grand finale of the Durga Puja celebration in Kolkata sees the pandals submerged in the River Hooghly. This symbolises the Goddess’ return to the divine cosmos. But don’t worry, they are all made from eco-friendly paper and clay. In recent years, the State Government also banned the use of non-biodegradable paints, so as to avoid environmental damage.

Durga Puja in Kolkata is a celebration of good over evil. The Durga Puja dates every year coincide with the harvest, so the festival is also a celebration of the power of mother nature. The Durga Puja calendar also runs alongside the festivals of Navratri and Dussehra, two other major Indian festivals that are recognised by different Hindu denominations. In 2021, the Durga Puja celebration in Kolkata was added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage; a practice that represents cultural identity. Nowadays, Durga Pooja Kolkata generates income for the pandal makers and artisans, for hotels and hospitality, for street vendors and other restaurants. It is also a platform for politicians to meet and greet their public, to sponsor and support their constituencies. Mostly, it is the chance to have one great big party, without rest, for five whole days.

Our hotel, The Oberoi Grand, is located in the centre of Kolkata on Chowringhee Road, which places us perfectly for you to enjoy the South Kolkata Durga Puja 2023 or the northern pandals. To make your celebrations that little bit brighter, our Durga Puja special offer includes a grand feast at special rates when you book a stay with us between 21st and 24th October. Our Grand Pujor dining experience features mouth-watering delicacies like shuktos and kabiraji, golda chingri malai curry, kosha mangsho and much more.

As mentioned above, transport can be temperamental at this time and the streets can become quite chaotic with revellers, so we would advise you contact us in advance for advice about getting around the city and the best way for you to experience Durga Puja in Kolkata. Should you be visiting family and friends and plan to visit the Kolkata Durga Puja pandals together, we would also be happy to assist with any transport, gifting or other arrangements.

Wishing you a very happy Durga Puja 2023!

Please note: Durga Puja public celebrations can get very crowded and are not wheelchair accessible.

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