This autumnal festival, popularly known as Shardotsav, celebrates the power of Shakti, symbolised by the Goddess Durga, who slays asura to re-establish peace and sanctity on earth again. Bengalis all over the world during these days rejoice to their heart’s content, reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is not simply about celebrations and feasting. The actual carousing of the Puja is all about enlightenment of soul and the celebrations of the goodness over evil. It is about the triumph of truth over false and right over wrong. Durga Puja is about sustaining the mass believe of emergence of an almighty savior whenever evil tries to take over the goodness in the universe. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of dhak, Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of shiuli, give a familiar tug at every Bengali heart. Spread over five days, Shashti, Shaptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami, multiple rituals are performed, though vermilion play ( Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflixsindur khela) – probably four-century-old and perhaps the most glamorous captivates Bengalis like nothing else. As per mythology, since on Vijaya Dashami evening, goddess Durga returns to her husband’s home, hence all married women, mostly in white or yellow sarees with red borders, are seen honouring the goddess and each other with ‘sindur’. This ritual is all about resplendence accompanied with sweets and the sound of drums and cymbals. The origin of public celebrations of Durga Puja can be traced back to the 16th century. With the ascent of the Mughals, Durga Puja became more of a status symbol. The annual festival soon became the most celebrated. It was an ocassion to make merry with friends, relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. Hosted for over a week, Durga Puja is considered one of the most expensive festivals of India. The social and ritualistic significance has also been modified to a certain extent. Durga Puja celebrations at Matri Mandir, Safdarjung Enclave, has been associated with grandiose and splendour in decoration. Each year thousands throng the Mandir premises to partake in the celebrations and appreciate the creativity and hard work that is evident in the intricate and imaginative themes in Pandal decorations. This year the theme is – ‘Go Green’ – back to the simplicity of life!They explored the vast diversity that is our country and rediscovered the Tribals in the East. Untouched by the madness of the cities, their concept of progress lies in co existing with the environment without disturbing nature. That is the essence they have depicted in the decoration this year. Progress is symbolized through the invention Boats as the main mode of transport, as they lived along the river banks, and the biggest invention of all, the Wheel. The entire structure and framework has been constructed out of environment friendly products and every piece used in decoration reflects the minimalism that marked human race when civilization began. The main entrance showcases the time wheel (Samay Chakra) and evolution of man. The other entrance exhibits Tribal Goddesses found at the entrance of ethnic villages. Tribal handicrafts are on display in abundance. To realize this vision, more than 80 artistes from across West Bengal and Odissa have been working tirelessly for over 40 days. Extensive use of bamboo, raw wood, feathers and others natural products help build the ambience. The endeavor has been to capture the grandiose in simplicity and create, not only a visual treat, but also to give a message to conserve nature.In keeping with the practice of theme-based pandals, this year Co-operative Ground Durga Puja Samity will be celebrating its 40th Durgaotsav where they will portray SAT-CHIT-AANANDA (EXISTENCE – KNOWLEDGE – BLISS). SAT-CHIT-AANANDA is a Sanskrit phrase which means the existence of Gods and Goddess amidst the common people and imparting Knowledge to them and making their life bliss. Co-operative Puja’s theme for 2015 depicts a village scenario where Devi Saraswati, Devi Lakshmi, Ganapati and Karitikeya are amidst the common people and empowering them with knowledge, prosperity and good health. While Devi Saraswati is imparting Vidya and Cultural fulfilment, Kartikeya is teaching the secret of Good Health by daily exercise and attaining Perfection through Archery. Devi Lakshmi and Ganapati are enabling the prosperity and development of the Village. The entire Pandal depicting the above theme has been created by eco-friendly material such as Thatch, Jute, Mud, Bamboo and most importantly Areca Nuts’ bark. Areca Nuts bark (Supari Tree bark) which is an eco-friendly product is usually produced in Southern or Eastern parts of India. The bark is usually hard in form and thus they are shaped into various plates, bowls and spoon. In fact, co-operative puja has been serving Bhog (Langar) to the mass in these plates from last 19 years. In sync with the Pandal, the Idol have been created within a background of the Half Shaped Areca Nut Plate and been made with eco-friendly material and Colours. Catechu or Cutch tree (brown), Gamboge tree resin (dark mustard yellow), Himalayan Rubhada root (yellow), Indigofera plant (blue), Kamala tree (red), Madder root (red, pink, orange), Myrabolan fruit (black). The above colours have been used keeping in view the “Clean Yamuna Project” and we are trying to protect it from artificial, chemical based colours. The streets of Chittaranjan Park locality, adoringly christened “Delhi’s mini-Bengal”, delightfully transform into a whirlwind of colors, textures, aromas and culinary pleasures and the entire area comes alive with the sounds of children’s laughter, elderly gossips, trance-inducing religious hymns and gyrating beats of drums that refuse to die down even in the late hours of night – Durga Puja is here and it is that time of the year when the Bengali population gears up to adore and offer obeisance to Goddess Durga, the sophisticated Hindu feminine deity, and in this profound tradition they are joined by hundreds of thousands of residents of the city who turn up at CR Park for a taste of the enviable culture and delectable culinary delights that the Bengalis are renowned for. Though the whole place wears a festive look complete with lights, music and crowds that tend to spill out on the arterial roads and side lanes, the mainstay of the wonderful celebrations remain the numerous, brilliantly-lit grand “pandals” (makeshift temples composed of cloth and paper over a bamboo framework) which are erected in the larger community parks and temple arenas and house idols of the Goddess and her hallowed accomplices, it is around these pandals that it appears that a major fair is in progress where there are joyrides, restaurants, food stalls, shopping counters and souvenir stalls, in fact, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, each of these extravagant temporary structures, raised primarily through corporate sponsorship (with nominal religio-charitable donations to indicate collective social participation), are constructed at the cost of several million rupees after immense thought and enormous labor and bear a uniquely distinctive and often thematic appearance which eventually culminates into being a major draw for the visitors, spiritual-seekers and photographers for whom this entire festival of colors, lights and humanity is an offer to delve some more into the city’s inconceivably diverse culture and traditions. India is a land of holy places, holy rivers, and large religious festivals. Almost every aspect of life is infused with religious gestures, rites, and meaning. The importance of Hinduism as India’s most dominant religion extends far beyond the private sphere into the public realm. Every year hundreds of religious festivals and pilgrimages are celebrated all across this vast and diverse country, and being able to witness or participate in one or several of them is a great cultural or even spiritual experience for foreign visitors. Among India’s most colorful and lively festivals is Navratri (Festival of Nine Nights), and Durga Puja is one of the most popular versions of this festival celebrated in Eastern India, especially in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta) in the state of West Bengal. For five days each year, the city takes on a festive atmosphere and comes to a complete standstill, when temporary temples spring up all over the city to honor the Hindu goddess Durga. Hundreds of thousands of worshippers from Kolkata and all over India visit these temples to pay their tribute.