This is the time when Kolkata forgets the difference between 2:00 in the afternoon and 2:00 in the morning. This is the time when everywhere you look there is glitter, and something shiny, and twinkling lights. This is the time when crossing a street becomes tantamount to climbing Mt.Everest. This is the time when every time you find yourself on the street, you basically find yourself amidst a sea of people. This is the time of new clothes and new shoes and walking all night and standing in queues and losing sleep and meeting friends and making friends and shooting balloons and riding the giant wheel and the smell of food and the smell of sweat and the smell of new clothes and that smell, that peculiar smell in the air, that always tells you that it is here- the annual carnival- Durga Pujo.
Let me tell you that visiting Kolkata during these five days is not for those who are faint of heart. It might not involve climbing mountains or swimming with sharks or bungee jumping or tight rope walking or sky diving, but it is an adventure in its own right. It is impossible to describe. It is impossible to explain to someone who has not been a part of Kolkata for even one of the five days through which the festival is celebrated.
My advice to the uninitiated is this: nothing can prepare you for the sheer madness that is Kolkata during Durga Pujo- the celebration surrounding the mythical homecoming of the goddess Durga-therefore there is no point in formulating a game plan. If you must have a plan, let it be this: When in Rome...well, you know how it goes.
Photos by Sambit Dattachaudhuri.