Blend In: The Non-Bengali's 10 Point Guide to Durga Puja

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Blend In: The Non-Bengali's 10 Point Guide to Durga Puja

Goddess Durga idol adorned with diamonds worth Rs. 10 Cr in Kolkata. (Press Trust of India)

When Pujo fever grips the city, you must do as the Bengalis do. There's nothing like being a part of this huge 10-day merrymaking that makes every city a 'City of Joy' - in all senses. Gear up for the festivities with our guide.
 
1. Pandal (pronounced like the word candle) Hopping: Each pandal has its own theme and a stunning sculpture of Goddess Durga. Devotees often go to as many as 10 pandals in a single night.  

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2. Have Talent, Will Show: If you have a special skill or are gifted with musical fingers or dancing shoes, this is the time to show what you've got. Volunteer yourself for your local pandal entertainment and you'll be eligible to win goodies and hearts.

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3.Food, Glorious Food: The kitchen at home can be locked up and grocery shopping put on hold for a few days. There's no need to cook when scrumptious bhog, ghoogni, fish cutlet, phuchkas, biryani, mutton and aloo chops, and a whole confectioner's shop-ful of toothsome sweetmeats including sondesh and chom chom are waiting for you at the pandal.

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4. Dhunuchi, Not for the Faint of Heart (or unco-ordinated): Difficult to ace, it's every Bengali's secret wish to be smokin' at this dance balancing an earthern pot filled with burning coconut husk. Few Bengalis will admit it but, really, dancing the dhunuchi is a competition - if you can do it with the dhunuchi balance balanced on your head, in your mouth or with one is each hand, respect.

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5. Drum Roll, Listen to the 'Dhak': Dear iPod, Rest in Peace. The foot-tapping beats of the dhaks make people go dhak-dhak.

6. Anjali on Ashtami: At least one morning every Pujo, possibly more, every Bengali will put aside the collective love of food and fast - only for a short while though, until they've showered the Goddess with flower petals in the traditional Anjali. After that, it's back to the bhog and sondesh.

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7. Get the Look in a Laal Paar Saree: There is nothing like wearing the traditional red and white Bengali saree with puffed sleeves and a big bindi.

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8. No Saree, no Worry: As long as you have new clothes to wear - ideally, two outfits for each day - you can dispense with the 'lal paar saree.'

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9.Paint the Town Red With 'Sindoor Khela': Certainly unfair, but Bengalis get to play Holi twice a year. This one with sindoor instead of gulaal. 

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10. Bishorjon (Visarjan, to the rest of us): Goodbyes are hard. A true blue Bengali will be seen weeping inconsolably in pandal corners or in the baraat-like procession to the immersion ghat.
 









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