Sojourn to an exotic Goan beach, participate in a Chinese Dragon Festival, blow vuvuzelas at Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium - the community Durga Puja organisers here are pulling out all stops to take revellers on a magical tour during the October 20-24 festival.
From the abstract to the exotic, innovative marquees have been lined up to usher in the socio-religious carnival and dazzle pandal hoppers with their creativity and imagination during the five-day puja.
South Kolkata's Suruchi Sangha has created a tiny slice of Goa with its alluring beaches and amazing marine life. The marquee, resplendent with Portuguese-influenced Goan art and architecture, also has a message: Save the oceans from pollution.
"On entering the pandal one will feel as if one is in Goa. We have tried to blend Bengali and Goan cultures and apprise the people about the threat that pollution poses to oceans and the marine life," said Raja Sarkar, the man behind the idea.
The inside walls have been adorned with sculptures and the marquee is a fitting tribute to Goan art and architecture. Aquatic animals and schools of fish would also be there to provide originality to the concept.
The idols have also been sculpted in tune with the essence of the thematic content.
With international peace as its theme, North Kolkata's Ahiritola Sarbojonin will bring in the Chinese Dragon Festival in the city. Teams of lions, ghosts with huge white faces, dragons and noisy drummers will create a mini China as goddess Durga descends on the earth astride a lion to wipe out evil.
"The Chinese have been living in this city for long and we plan to make this community a part of our festivity. The Dragon festival is analogous to our Puja and we have tried assimilating cultures of both the countries," said club secretary Dulal Sil.
Much like Durga Puja, football too has been a symbol of Bengal. Stimulating the Bengalis' love for the beautiful game is Central Kolkata's Mohammad Ali Park, where the marquee replicates the Johannesburg stadium, Africa's biggest.
The feel is accentuated by the use of fountains similar to those that adorn the stadium. The pandal's interior would correspond to the look and feel of an ancient royal palace.
"The beauty of the pandal will increase manifold when light beams converge on the point where the goddess Durga and her children have been sculpted," said Vinod Kumar Sharma, one of the organisers.
South Kolkata offers a huge multitude of popular Durga Pujas and one of them is Sanghasree, which is celebrating tales of ancient times through colourful designs using paper pulp as the raw material.
The walls of the pandal would provide a glimpse into the spectacular and abundant cave paintings, early men and their traditional way of life, their act of preparing elaborate pictographs and prayers to the supernatural before and after battles.
At the Ballygunge Cultural Association, a bit of Rajasthan comes to life, depicting the varied and vivid colours of the state's rural life. The serenity of a desert would welcome one as one enters the marquee. The walls have been adorned with paintings detailing the life and times of village folks.
Badamtala Aashar Sangha has come up with the theme 'Ulto Pothe' or 'on the reverse path'. To know what is on offer one will have to go to the 74-year-old Durga Puja near Kalighat in south Kolkata. Excellent usage of lighting on the idol of goddess Durga would be the main attraction. Besides the main pandal, eight gates adorned with art works have been erected.
Durga Puja is not only the celebration of triumph of good over evil but also one that salutes women's empowerment. Keeping the deity as the backdrop, the Kalighat Nepal Bhattacharjee Street Puja would be celebrating women's liberation.
A wide variety of legendary women characters have been depicted inside the marquee. Consistent with the theme, the idols have been created by a woman and the Puja would be by girls who had prevented child marriages.
The Barisha Sabuj Sathi Club, with 'Nepatthey' (background) as the theme is focussing on the lost handicrafts of Bengal. The pandal and the decor around it will feature clay pottery, pata shilpa (curving figures of both men and women) and shola (spongewood) art - three art forms that are on the verge of extinction.
Durga puja, the biggest festival in this part of the world, celebrates the annual descent of Hindu goddess Durga accompanied by her four children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati on earth to visit her parents.
She stays for five days, slays the demon Mahishasur, and returns to her husband Lord Siva at Kailash on Dashami.
An artist gives final touches to a Devi Durga idol, made with 10,000 colourful straws, at a community puja pandal in Kolkata. Photo: PTI