Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Balloon Vendor

Balloons have recently been turned into a means to express euphoria, mainly the elongated rod-shaped ones. Hence in many a occassion, like the immersion of a deity or the celebration of victory by a favourite team, their use is abundant. You can wrap them round your forehead or hold two of them tightly against wind to make sound or just can swing them to show your enjoyment.

This shot was taken at an immersion ghat on the bank of the river Ganga. This balloon vendor was waiting at the doorway of the ghat for his clients, the gangs coming to the ghat for immersion of the goddess Kali.

Judge's ghat, Kolkata. Nov. 2007

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Navapatrika - The Deity of Nine Plants

The festival of Durga puja takes up its momentum by observing ceremonial bathing of Navapatrika, a form made up of nine plants wrapped up in a piece of cloth, on the second day - that is "Maha Saptami". "Nava" means nine and "Patrika" means plants in Sanskrit. The nine plants are - Banana (Kadoli), Wood apple (Vilva), Pomegranate (Dadim), Turmeric (Haridra), Barley (Jayanti), Asoka, Paddy (Dhanya) and Kachu (Arum colocasia). The nine goddesses presiding over the individual plants are Brahmani, Kalika, Durga, Karttiki, Siva, Raktadantika, Sokarahita, Camunda, and Lakshmi respectively. These are the nine manifestations of the "Parama Prakriti" (The Absolute Nature), that is the goddess Durga. Hence in essence it is a form of worshiping the Mother Earth.

In popular belief the deity is imagined as the spouse of Ganesha, hence the name "Kolabou" or "The Banana wife". The main frame of the form is made up of a leafy banana trunk and thus it is called "Banana wife". I think there is a meaning to this association. The other name of the Lord Ganesha is "Siddhidwata", meaning the giver of success and prosperity. In an agricultural society what can be more prosperous than fields full of crops, trees heavy with fruits and lush green vegetation?

Early in the morning the deity is taken to the bank of a river for the ceremony, among beating of the drums. In Kolkata it takes place mainly at the ghat of the river Ganga. At the start of the ritual the plants are immersed in the water of the river for washing. Then it is wrapped up in a new piece of cloth and the puja starts with the chanting of the mantras. The deity is offered fruits and sweets for Her pleasure. After all the rituals of puja are over the deity is taken back to the pandal and is placed by the side of the Ganesha.


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

The elderly priest of Durga puja

I met this aged person at Kumortuli ghat during Kolabou puja. He is the eldest priest of Durga puja, at least in Kolkata I think. What I made out from what he said in his soft voice amidst the beating of the drums is that he is around 92-93 years old. But still he is actively involved in Durga puja as a priest observing all the rituals with utmost earnestness. Actually he was supervising the ceremonial bathing of Kolabou while I took this photo. He told me his name, but I missed it in the noise of the beating drums and I didn't like to disturb him. He was once featured in a popular local newspaper here while going to Bangkok for the purpose of Durga puja in the year 2001.

I searched the archive of the newspaper in the net, but couldn't find anything. I am trying to know more about this person of great stamina. If someone visiting this blog happens to recognize him please leave me a comment.

More about ceremonial bathing of Kolabou or Navapatrika will be coming shortly.

Durga puja, Kolkata, 2007

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The End of the Show!!

So the festive season has ended at last!!
It all started with Durga puja, or rather with Eid this year. These two festivals always come side by side, separated just by few days. The end comes with the immersion of the idol of Goddess Kali. For Hindi speaking people it is the Chatpuja and it has been held the last saturday.

So its the end of the show. Or is it? I think the autumn festivals are just the beginning of a six months long festive season which ends up with the Saraswati puja, the goddess of learning. Then again the summer starts, the season of sweating and suffocation. Now the weather is pleasant in this part of the world, and so many festivals and ceremonies are in the line.

Lots of activities on the streets of Kolkata, means lots of opportunities for beautiful photographs. I have already shot photos on the occasion of Durga puja, Kali puja and Chatpuja. Shall publish them here shortly, so stay tuned.

Enjoy the festive season!!

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

My first ever post here

Hello everybody!!! well this is my first post here, and am a bit unsure of what to write. I already have an another blog at but I hardly could maintain it. The primary goal for having a blog is to share my photo-projects and to communicate with my friends out here. But my previous blog does not support accessing my photos in flickr directly, each photo needs to be uploaded as a resource in ipernity. The headache!!!!

Flickr allows to publish the photos here directly. I hope it would be easy sharing them, and hope to update it regularly keeping the blog alive.

Comments and criticisms are welcome, and thanks in advance for your viewership.


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