Have you been to see our outdoor riverside Photographic exhibition Bengal's Durga on the riverside walkway outside the National Theatre?
Spotlighting the annual Durga Puja carnival that takes place over 10 days every autumn along the River Hooghly in West Bengal. The festival sees 10 million people descend to the river with thousands of mega idols, hundreds of themed art installations and processions to the Hooghly. This exhibition, presented by the Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal in collaboration with the British Council, as part of its 70 year anniversary celebrations in India, curated by Ali Pretty and Kamalika Bose is a rare insight into the outpouring of creativity, artistic innovation and cultural celebration of Bengal’s riverine communities. You catch it until Sunday 30 September...
The Durga Puja celebrations are focused around the worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, as she returns to her parental home in West Bengal each year. Perceived in many forms, Durga is a beloved daughter, a revered mother and a victorious Goddess. Her energy is thought to sustain, renew and replenish the people who worship her. Idols for the Durga Puja festival are sculpted by potters and artesans in roughly 550 workshops out of straw, bamboo, and river clay, and are then covered in beautiful decoration, embellishments and more. Thousands of idols adorn the banks of the Hooghly for the duration of the festival.
The concept of a sustainable, eco-friendly abode for the goddess and her family on their annual visit, has been enshrined in the making of the pandal. These temporary street-side architectural fabrications were imagined as enclosed, decorative pavilions to house the deity and host ritual events at an urban scale. Now this unique element in the festival has taken on a new dimension, with artists switching to LEDs integrating digital technology, collaborating with graphic designers to achieve innovative lighting design on a monumental scale.
BONDING & RITUAL
The Durga Puja festival is a monumental build-up of emotion and festivity, replete with gastronomic excesses and familial bonding. The festival provides celebrators them with an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, binding communities and blurring social and religious boundaries. As the crowds descend through the celebrations, the moment they reach the pandal to meet the Durga becomes a truly calm and cathartic experience. At the end of the festival, the act of ceremonial immersion becomes the focus - the symbolic process of returning an object of worship to its original form.