Amazing Bengali Festivals

The grandest Bengali festival of the year is the Durga Puja (Durga is an incarnation of Kali, Kolkata's patron goddess). The pujas (homage; literally, "worship") take place over several days in September or October. Thousands of devotees and revelers take to the streets, visiting different venues through the day and night. Food stalls, fairs, and live music stages come up in every corner. Colorful, sometimes handmade idols of Durga, sometimes more than 20 feet tall, are moved in large processions through the streets for several hours before reaching the river and being immersed there. The rites and processions blend tradition with innovation; themes at the puja venues are varied—war, tsunamis, film stars, and the White House and Obama have been faithfully re-created with local clay and other materials, lights, and sound effects.

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