Tired of chaotic, urban Durgotsav celebrations? – Explore Shantiniketan, the perfect Puja escapade for you.
Every year, with the advent of Autumn, as the azure blue skies shelter floating puff clouds and the pearl-white Kans grass roots shoot out of the monsoon-clad earth, Ma Durga begins her journey back home from the icy Kailash mountains – an occasion observed with utter pomp and grandeur throughout India in multiple shapes and forms.
Celebrated as Navratri all over the rest of India, in West Bengal, the idea and execution of this carnival named Durga Puja differs widely – whereas Navratri is defined as the time for Hindus to honour the divine victory of Devi Durga over the evil demon Mahishasura, in Bengal, the treatment of this affair gets tweaked even further. Here, Ma Durga along with being a dynamic deity is also a beloved girl who’s returning to her paternal home with her sons and daughters – a homely Bengali rendition of the classic myth.
But even though the very notion of the festival stays the same across Bengal, the way the urban audience commemorates the event varies from its rural counterparts. While the celebrations in Kolkata & mainstream urban zones would mean men and women of all ages mingling together, hopping through puja mandaps in celebratory fervour, the downsides would mean random chaos, utter congestion on the streets, and often extreme traffic situations, owing to which a part of the suburban audience does plan for an outing stretched over the long holiday season, all the while facing a dilemma within – to leave the city or not during Durga Puja!
And Shantiniketan, envisaged as a university town owing to its alternative education setup helmed by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, can be the perfect answer to this intrinsic decision struggle – a town that has the best of both worlds: the pure bliss of an unmanipulated nature & the earthy observance of Durga Puja that has indeed a few unexpected flavours.
One such perfect embodiment of an alternate representation of the goddess can be found at Hiralini Durga Puja, celebrated at Sonajhuri in Shantiniketan amid a lush Sal forestation. And the speciality of this celebration is that here Ma Durga gets armed with not her traditional bearings, but with flowers! – Yes, in the recent trend of themed mandaps & idols, we have seen similar incarnations of the goddess, but all of them being set up in an urban context, the original earthy flavour of the concept is bound to get dim.
And that’s where Hiralini Durgotsav gets even exotic – founded by Badhan Das, a painter, a ceramist and former faculty at Kolkata’s Government College of Art and Craft, along with his kin and fellow sculptor Ashish Ghosh involved the local tribal community whilst deciding to relive their childhood Durga Puja memories of Comilla, but with a twist!
The Santhals, who used to celebrate their auspicious ‘Belbaran’ season at almost the same period as Durga puja, agreed readily to join and since its inception, the Hiralini Durga Puja has been a unique cultural amalgamation that is worth experiencing.
Add to that, a visit to the tranquil Khoai, on a moonlit night, and the rendezvous with the Bauls, whose soul-touching melodies shall enrich you with a refreshing bliss amid the invigorating serenity of the vivid greenery all around that’s bound to encompass your senses – Shantiniketan, has much to offer you.
So, the next time you suffer from a decision struggle about whether or not to go on a vacation during Durga Puja, hopscotch to Shantiniketan without hesitation – we, at Mohor Kutir Resorts, will be delighted to serve you. Equipped with all modern luxurious amenities, we are one of the premier resorts to enjoy a relaxing stay at Shantiniketan: Taste a variety of delectable dishes at our in-house ‘Panchmeshali’ restaurant, have a splash in the pool or take a stroll across our furnished compounds and then waltz into the greenery, the choice is yours!