Kolkata’s Durga Puja Pandal Breaks Taboo with Menstrual Hygiene Theme
Published On: 23 Oct 2023 Updated On: 02 Nov 2023
Kolkata which is often known as the city of joy is prepared fully to welcome Goddess Durga for the Durga Puja festivities 2023. Unique-themed pandals are packed up each year to grab the center of attraction and outdo one another. This year, the puja pandal of Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli is capturing headlines for breaking societal norms and taboos with its uniquely designed menstrual hygiene-themed decor.
Amongst many of the Durga Puja pandals that are glorified in the city, Central Kolkata’s puja pandal is making its way through the headlines and social media due to the addressing of the significant yet neglected issue of society- menstrual hygiene.
‘Ritumati’(Menstrual Hygiene) the theme of this pandal was selected thoughtfully and propelled to break off the longstanding taboo regarding menstruation.
“Menstruation is a natural biological process, and there is no need to hide it. It’s high time we challenge these taboos, and the first step is to bring such issues to the forefront,” said Ellora Saha, the active president of the ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli Sarbojanin Durgotsab’ committee.
Menstruation is often hampered with a pile of limitations starting from women staying away from the kitchen to sharing beds with their husbands or even leaving their homes. These misconceptions are exacerbated by a lack of education regarding personal health and hygiene during menstruation.
The president of the committee advises everyone to have a shift in their mindset by seeing menstruation from the perspective of science. Menstruation is a straightforward biological process that requires no secrecy and elaboration.
The arrangement and creation of this uniquely designed Puja Pandal took three months time. It features paintings, models, and graphics involving the labour of love and an investment of approximately 18 lakhs rupees. The head of the artistic department behind this project, Manash Roy said, “Our puja pandal is centered on menstrual hygiene and weaves together various art forms.”
This is further demonstrated in the form of idols carefully crafted by Sanatan Paul of Kumartuli, which emphasizes the significant message of breaking the menstrual taboos. Focusing on spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene the Durga Puja pandal at ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli’ potrays a step towards breaking stigmas attached to menstruation and enlightening discussions surrounding menstruation. It questions ingrained prejudices and takes us a step closer to an informed society.
Significance of Navratri
Navratri is a nine-day long festival where there is a belief that Goddess Durga arrives home. Shardiya Navratri is a long festival dedicated to honour 9 divine and different avatars of hers. Starting on October 15 and ending on October 23, this festival carries both deep historical and spiritual significance for lakhs of people and devotees out there.
Each night of this 9-day long festival represents a different avatar of Maa Durga that holds unique symbolism of its own that is worshipped. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga fought with the demon Mahishasura each day continuously for nine days before emerging victorious. The victory personifies the success of good over evil.
The nine avatars associated with Goddess Durga that are worshipped in order during these nine days are Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhidatri. Worshippers seek blessings for happiness, prosperity, and protection from these divine avatars of the goddess.
Shailaputri: Goddess Shailaputri is the first incarnation of Maa Durga and is known to be the embodiment of power and purity.
Color worn: Orange
Brahmacharini: Goddess Brahmacharini is the second form of Goddess Durga and is considered to be the symbol of knowledge and wisdom.
Color worn: White
Chandraghanta: Devi Chandraghanta is the epitome of beauty, charm, and grace. She is the symbol of fearlessness and courage and is the third incarnation of Goddess Durga.
Color worn: Red
Kushmanda: Goddess Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri. She is the symbolism of light, good health, and prosperity.
Color worn: Royal Blue
Skandamata: Goddess Skandamata is the personification of motherly love and is the epitome of motherhood. She is the fifth form of Goddess Durga.
Color worn: Yellow
Katyayani: Devi Katyayani is the symbol of courage and knowledge who is the sixth incarnation of Goddess Durga. It is said that the blessings of Maa Katyayani can wash away the sins of the worshippers and remove negative forces.
Color Worn: Green
Kalaratri: The most ferocious form of Maa Durga, this is said to be her seventh form, Devi Kalaratri. She is worshipped during Navaratri because she can destroy all the darkness present and bring peace to the world.
Color Worn: Grey
Mahagauri: Goddess Mahagauri represents calmness, wisdom, purity, and austerity. Gauri is known to be the daughter of mountains (Giri). Mahagauri helps in eradicating evil forces from creation and helps a devotee in overcoming the evil forces within.
Color Worn: Purple
Siddhidatri: The final incarnation of Goddess Durga, Siddhidatri is the ruler of the minds of people and drives them towards a disciplined and spiritual life. Maa Siddhidatri eliminates all the ignorance, fear, and suffering from the life of the devotees, providing them with ample knowledge and fulfilling their desires.
Color worn: Peacock Green
In West Bengal, this festival is celebrated as Durga Puja. Every pandal is based on a unique theme and adornes the city with the glory of this festival.
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