Durga Puja is the biggest festival for us Bengalis. According to the Krittibas Ramayana, Lord Rama invoked the Goddess Durga before his battle with Ravana. Since he prayed to her in the autumn, as opposed to the traditional spring worship, this is also known as Akal Bodhan. Today is Maha Ashtami, the main day of festivities in the Puja calendar. Today is the day everyone decks up in new clothes, offers Pushpanjali to the Devi, and has a good time generally.
The coolest thing about Durga Puja in Kolkata is definitely the pandals. There is one on every street corner, sometimes two or three. The city is lit up, and looks like a dream. People go pandal-hopping, travelling from one pandal to another through crawling traffic, sometimes ditching the vehicle to go on foot. The best thing would be the midnight pandal tours, when people go pandal-hopping at night to avoid the rush. Below are some of my favorite pandals, from the mega College Square pandal by the lake to the Hogwarts-themed one at Salt Lake.
I haven't been home for Durga Puja since the time I joined college, and I miss it a lot, especially at this time of the year. Of course I'll be at a Puja, but it's not the same; home is home after all. Writing this has helped lessen the lonely feeling, and I'm looking forward to enjoying myself this Puja.