Concept of Durga Puja Art

At its most basic, Durga Puja is West Bengal’s largest festival, centred on the goddess Durga, destroyer of the demon Mahishasura. But in Kolkata and elsewhere, Durga Puja is also the world’s largest publicly funded art show. While the basic idea is to worship Durga and her four children following traditional rituals, Durga Puja has grown more spectacular and extravagant with every passing year. During well over a century, Bengal’s biggest religious festival has transformed into a secular community event, a mass public ritual, a mega carnival, and an open-air exhibition of art created by some of the state’s best known artists and art designers.

Over time, both idols and pandals (temporary structures to house the idols) have transformed into breathtaking works of art involving months of planning and execution. The advent of specially ‘themed’ pujas has contributed majorly to this transformation, where particular themes are chosen for various pujas, and idols and pandals are created to match them. Most of this is still made possible with public donations, hence our description of Durga Puja as the world’s largest publicly funded art exhibition.