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21 Stunning Images That Capture The Madness And Opulence Of Kolkata's Durga Pujas

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27/07/2016 11:17 AM IST | Updated 12/10/2016 7:19 PM IST
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Durga Pujas.

When you look back at the Durga Pujas, it's a string of stories that's going to stay with you for a while, and if you are lucky, forever. The shoe-bites you braved to pandal hop, the roadside egg-roll in the wee hours of the morning, turning up for the Ashtami pushpanjali bleary-eyed, or waking up at the crack of the dawn to visit as many pandals possible and beat the peak hour crowds.

Photographer Ronny Sen, who recently bagged the prestigious Getty Images-Instagram grant, has beautifully captured the Durga Pujas unfurling in Kolkata. From the vendor selling devil horns to the last vestiges of the Puja drowning in the muddy waters of the Hooghly, this series has it all.

Ronny Sen
The dhakis playing at the 66 Pally Durga Puja in south Kolkata. 56-year-old artist Purnendu De who hails from Burdwan district suggested to the organisers that on the 66th year of their Pujas, they could revisit and then recreate what Kolkata may have looked like 66 years ago. Among many Kolkata landmarks he replicated for the pandal premises, was Howrah bridge, various churches, Nakhoda Masjid, the Akashvani Bhavanand so on. The organisers say that about one million people have visited this particular pandal in the last 5 days.

Ronny Sen
An installation in one of the streets at the very popular Sovabajar area in north Kolkata. This road, that leads to various pandals, is dotted with several installations such as these.

Ronny Sen
Inside the pandal at the Badamtala Ashar Shangha Puja in south Kolkata.

Ronny Sen
Habu Saha, secretary of 33 Palli Bashi Brinda Pujo in Beliaghata, has been fascinated with the iconic yellow taxi in Kolkata. He got in touch with artiste Shib Shankar Das who built this entire pandal with scrap from real ambassador taxis. He said, "The ambassador car and the yellow taxi was a prominent symbol of Kolkata, until very recently Hindustan motors stopped its production in its Uttarpara factory in the outskirts of Kolkata. It's never going to come back. We want to pay our tribute to the iconic car." They have also made small videos about yellow taxis in Kolkata which they are sharing on social media.

Ronny Sen
The organisers of the FD Block Puja in Salt Lake wanted to portray how our lives are completely dominated and run by mobile apps.

Ronny Sen
Inside the FD Block pandal.

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Ronny Sen
Baghajatin in South Kolkata turned into a desi version of the Madame Tussauds. The pandal was filled with statues of various celebrities.

Ronny Sen
Miraya Laiq (left) will be 3 years old this November and Aarika Laiq (right) will be 5 years old this December. This is one among the 12 dresses they each got for the Durga Pujas.

Ronny Sen
Though it poured on all four days of the Durga Puja this year, the revellers were undaunted.

Ronny Sen
The sweet shops were the most busy during the Pujas and a few days after the conclusion of the festivities.

Ronny Sen
Sri Hari Mishtanna Bhandar is a popular sweet shop in south Kolkata. Hundred years old, this shop is a favourite of students from the nearby colleges and breakfast seekers who turn up in hordes for their kachoris and sooji halwa. The workers at the shop hardly have time to breathe during the Pujas.

Ronny Sen
People wolfing down kachoris inside Sri Hari Mishtanna Bhandar.

Ronny Sen
The decorative lighting in one of the pandals in south Kolkata seeks to remind the revellers of the Singur movement - a protest by farmers against the police and erstwhile CPM government, which left 14 people dead.

Ronny Sen
Sindur Khela is an age-old ritual, observed on Dashami, the concluding day of the Durga Pujas. Women apply sindur (vermillion) on goddess Durga's feet and also on the forehead of other women and smear it all over their faces. However, widows and unmarried women are often forbidden from participating in this ritual.

Ronny Sen
Tithir Saha ( far right) is 28 years old and works for TCS. His father TK Saha, who is a businessman, started this Durga Pujo at their home two years back.

Ronny Sen
The world map being painted on the ceiling of a pandal in South Kolkata.

Ronny Sen
Bimal Das has no time this year to take his family out for pandal hopping. He lives in Barasat and comes daily to Kolkata to work. He says that during the Puja's he makes some extra money by selling odds and ends.

Ronny Sen
On the last day of the Puja, members of the Sri Sri Sridhar Jew, an old Kolkata 'thakurbari' which has been organising Pujas for the past 200 years, go to one of the ghats in Bagbazaar to immerse the Durga idol.

Ronny Sen
An excited man during the immersion on the last day of the Durga Puja.

Ronny Sen
Immersion on the last day of the Durga Puja.

Ronny Sen
As the water swallows the earthen parts of the idols, the wood and hay framework floats in the river. These are then salvaged by locals and sold off, to be made into new idols next year.

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