This Durga Puja be the Goddess you are!

Durga Puja without Bengalis sounds so incomplete. It’s the Bengali community that adds additional flavour, style and zing to this auspicious puja with their exceptional vibrancy and colours! It is this beautiful festival for which every Bengali soul longs for the entire year. Annual traditions are followed, and this festival gives a chance to almost every Bengali to show their fashion and as well flaunt out their own personalised styles and customised attires. Our Fashionista, Neeti, gives invaluable tips to look glam in puja this year, as part of the Durga Puja special feature, exclusively in Different Truths.

Fast life, Fast cities…

But there’s a buzz in the air you can’t miss!!

The air is laden with festivities

Goddess Durga’s face glows with bliss!

Can you all feel the festive excitement? I am getting goosebumps in anticipation! Yes, finally the summer heat has gone, there are showers of rain and a nip in the early morning air! The weather is getting better and there is a feeling of positivity and hope in everyone’s mind and shopping for new clothes and jewellery is certainly the topmost agenda!

Bengali woman holding a puja thali at Durga Puja

Bengali woman holding a puja thali at Durga Puja

The auspicious nine days of ‘Navaratras’ are here, one can hear the rhythmic beat of colourful Garba sticks to the tune of folk music and Bollywood remixes, blinged with women dressed in lehnga choli’s dancing with men in kurta payjamas ! Next is Durga Puja and then Dussehra and before we know, we will be lighting earthen diyas and dispelling the darkness!

Durga Puja

Durga Puja is an auspicious, culturally rich festival which defines every grain of the culture in Bengal. It is also associated with Dussehra in states, other than Bengal. According to the Bengali dialect, Durga Puja is also referred to as ‘Durgotsava’ and even ‘Sharadostav’ in certain traditional places. This originality of the festival goes way back to the mythological era, which has etched the triumphant moment of Goddess Durga over the evil, who is a blend of half demon and half buffalo, known as Mahishasura.

Larger than life idols of Maa Durga, iconic Pandals, and air filled with the fragrance of flowers and mouth-watering food, colourful crowds covering the streets! Ummm, who needs a La Tomatina when you can have Durga Puja?

Durga Puja without Bengalis sounds so incomplete. It’s the Bengali community that adds additional flavour, style and zing to this auspicious puja with their exceptional vibrancy and colours!

It is this beautiful festival for which every Bengali soul longs for the entire year.

Annual traditions are followed, and this festival gives a chance to almost every Bengali to show their fashion and as well flaunt out their own personalised styles and customised attires!

I have many Bengali friends and I love seeing their energy and excitement as they prepare for the festivities! Some women fast in the morning then stand in pandal queues all night to pay respects to Ma Durga.

Traditional Attire

It surely isn’t an easy task, looking your best during this festival.

I am really attracted by the detailing in the ensembles, from the red bold bindi to the jewellery, makeup, hairstyles and footwear. It actually paves the way to a grand fashion off-the-runway fiesta.

There is a constant pressure, a constant battle to fit in or stand out! On one hand, every woman wants to look traditional in rich, family heirlooms of traditional nine yards of love and blessings (sarees) from the elders. On the other hand, she wants to stand out in the crowd with her unique style and wants to look a bit sexy (admit it now! No shying away!) So is it going to be heavy traditional saree with light jewellery or a light one with heavy jewellery, this year? Aah, the yearly dilemma! Let me help you a bit with this…

Bengali Sarees

Oh, the gorgeous Bengali sarees!

Durga Puja is a basically seen as a time for worship and feasting. However, it is also a time when all the Bong beauties dress up in their best and go pandal hopping. All Bengali women buy new sarees for Durga Puja. Wearing new clothes is part of the tradition of this Puja.

Especially certain types of Bengali sarees are in vogue during the Puja season. Here are some of the prominent ones:

  1. Tant is the most basic type of Bengali cotton. Tant sarees are stiffly starched and often easy to manage in the hot and humid climate of Bengal. Tant looks great when it is draped in the traditional style.
  2. Dhakai Jamdani is a typical Dhakai and the threadwork is the Jamdani style. This saree is a speciality of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Most Bengali women drape a Dhakai saree on festive occasions.
  3. Baluchari sarees are made in the Bankura district of Bengal. These exquisite silk sarees display mythological stories on the pallu. The pallu has square blocks on which motifs are made with thread embroidery.
  4. Swarnachari is a variety of Baluchari sarees that uses golden zari threads for embroidery. Both these varieties of sarees are dying out because it takes tremendous human effort to weave these sarees, but results are not cost effective.
  5. Tangail threadwork on the sarees is its main USP.
  6. Plain Jamdani Saree is a plain red and white Zamdani saree that every Bengali lady should have. You can drape it in the Bengali style during a puja and wear in the pleated style for an elegant day look.
  7. Benarasi is a typical saree that a Bengali bride wears during her wedding. So Durga Puja is the best time to take your wedding saree out of the wardrobe again.

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Sindoor Khela

For Bengali women, this last ritual — Sindoor Khela or Sindoor Utsav — holds much significance. “The sindoor is a symbol of married life. They first apply it on the idol of Goddess Durga on Vijayadashami and then on other Bengali women’s forehead and the iron bangles (Noa) they wear, while wishing them a happy married life and good luck. The ritual is not strictly restricted to married women. Sometimes, even young girls apply the sindoor, but that is only out of devotion to the goddess.

It’s a magical site to see beautiful Bengali women draped in white and red sarees with bold eyes filled with kohl and skin glowing more because of the red colour of the vermillion. Ah! Where in the world can you find a sight like this?

The young and heart and experimental divas please pay attention to the next section where I’m giving you the ideas on trying out other interesting looks.

  1. A vibrant Anarkali kurta and churidar in lovely bright pinks or festive reds to reflect the mood. A tinge of gold would also add the glam quotient to the outfit.
  2. If Anarkali doesn’t appeal to you, try a long crinkled ankle length skirt with bright prints and golden border, or solid crinkle and golden border or block prints. This can be teamed with a bold backless choli or halter blouse and a crinkled contrast stole. Another option could be a short side-slit kurti, till the waist, in a contrast colour with the gold border to keep the design rhythm intact.
  3. A matte shimmer jumpsuit or Palazzo pants with a corset top and a sheet long jacket on it, with detailing on the collar, can do the trick.
  4. A kimono inspired, overlapping, asymmetrical jacket or kurti with a net jacket is great for one of the evenings – it’s not too dressy but will make you stand out from the crowd.
  5. Prints are very much in and make the garment come alive! A printed or embroidered tunic with leggings or plain leggings with printed palazzo or straight pants or even Jodhpuris can also make you look trendy and smart. Pair these with a nice statement neckpiece or a rich handcrafted stole, and you’re just good to go.

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Tweaking the Saree

  • Other than traditional ones, one may try different sarees, be it Ikats, or even georgettes to look a bit different. Try out delicate floral printed or sheer solid colour georgette sarees with intricate gold embroidery or border. You might wear it as it is or drape it on a sheer petticoat with net frills at the hem to enhance its beauty and grace.
  • Tiered sarees a.k.a. Mumtaz style of the 60’s also keeps making a comeback and a must-try if you have a curvaceous figure to flaunt!
  • Why don’t you try a pre-draped sari, a jersey sari maybe? Yes, you heard me right. The jersey fabric is gradually but, steadily creeping into the stacks of ethnic wear in your wardrobe.
  • Occasional saree wearers may try wearing a vibrant sari that combines pure silk and cotton is great for the pious occasion. It works for all ages and is the perfect blend of tradition and comfort. So pick an exciting sari in crimson, scarlet, mustard, mint green and other bright hues to look dynamic.
  • Rich Indian textiles like brocade, satin, net, crepe, tissue and georgette, embellished with sequin, zari and luxurious motifs will give you a majestic appearance. Get a fusion look by pair it with a backless choli or embellished quarter sleeves blouse. You can also look pretty in that subtle lehenga sari you just bought.
  • You can style your blouse as a halter or scoop neckline if you are more daring! Pair sarees with a contrast blouse and take the gentle attire a notch higher. Another interesting blouse is the corset style, which is the best way to show off the curves you worked so hard for at the gym and that flat abdomen!

Whew!! Is the temperature rising?

Men’s Traditional Attire

  • Traditional Dhoti Kurta (Dhuti Panjabi as the Bongs call it) looks great! They can wear a printed Matka silk kurta with embroidered panels fitted to the hem that adds a glam quotient with a traditional twist!
  • They can wear a pre-draped cotton Dhoti underneath. Pair this with traditional Kohlapuris and there you are ready for the ‘Babu-moshai‘ look! You may go for the beiges and off white silk tones but also try out rich colours like maroon, violet, ink-blue or sober colours like beige and grey!
  • Make sure the fitting is good so that the garments look perfect on you.

Some other Looks you may Experiment with

  • Try offbeat colours like, midnight blue, magenta, ochre yellow, coal grey and maroon combination
  • Choose a bandh-gala brocade kurta with a dhoti-styled pyjamas, which are very comfortable.
  • An embroidered stole or shawl gives a royal aura.
  • You can also try a Sherwani and look like a prince, especially on Ashtami day!
  • Anyone for velvet embroidered jutis? They look very classy too!

Time to Make-it- up with some Shimmy Sham Shimmer!

  • Stick to clean makeup by highlighting your eyes with brown or black kohl. A blue or green liner to define the eyes (lower) creates a creative element to the makeup.
  • Shimmer gold matte or gloss eyeshadow will add the glow and turn all eyes toward you!
  • Deep crimson lips will add drama, but you may try light tints of red or soft matt colours in pink.
  • Wear a bright pop of colour on your lips and kohl-rim your eyes – the heavier the better.
  • Wear a big round red bindi or experiment with bindi shapes to make it fun and creative.
  • The foundation could be in nude tones and a little of golden glitter could be dusted on the skin. Lips may be kept nude, if you want to keep the focus on eyes or in the night, a sheen lip gloss could be added to spark up your beautiful face!
  • A bold big Red bindi is a traditional and typical asset for women, symbolising their boldness and strength. It is a focal point that symbolises Goddess Durga, thus it’s very impactful.

Hair and There: Try out these Hairstyles!

  • Compliment the look by tying your hair into a high chignon or ponytail. For a softer look, you can also adorn your curls with a headband or pearl necklace. A flower tiara can also give a soft, young and bohemian look to your face.
  • Keep your beautiful hair open and side-swept; add some waves if you like.
  • Try parting your hair in the middle and do a side braid. You may also try beautiful Swarovski or embellished hair jewellery by simply braiding your hair with it. Those with short hair may gel their hair sideways.
  • Adding a bright flower will make your diva avatar ready in no time. Experiment with your hair accessory too. A simple or dramatic gajra will look good.
  • You can also try the hair jewellery by simply braiding your hair and adorning it with jewels.
  • Ornate danglers, hoops and jhumkas may be paired with this look.
  • Kantha embroidery to shadow work, luxurious motifs and plentiful of drama will elevate your look for the night.
  • Curl up your locks or tie it in a loose side bun. But if you want to add an old-world charm to the look then a coiffed hairstyle is perfect.
  • Jewellery: Throw on either a pair of antique-looking danglers or a stocky choker, and you can swagger the day ahead in your ultra-glam avatar!

Accessories and Shoes

  • Try a nice statement neckpiece to add some drama and give you a unique look.
  • Tribal look neck pieces and chunky earrings or maang tikka can also make you the focal point at the pandals.
  • A stylish matte gold or silver tinted potli bag or sleek embroidered clutch with that new pair of nude block heel shoes to finish off a young and happy you…ready to storm the evening with your charms!
  • Try sporting bright bangles in one hand and wear a chunky watch in the other.
  • A bright pair of juttis or mojris will add the just right final touch to the creative ensemble.

Wow, I can already image you looking so amazing…a perfect blend of tradition and modernity…Ready for a selfie?

Remember, you have to wait one whole year for the next round of Puja fashion, so give in to your impulses, and splurge a bit! Tweak your creative juices and be a little crazy and deck up!

Ending with the last Twisty Factor

Fashion during Puja’s is definitely the key focus but one can’t deny the importance of food during this festival. Food is also Fashion for them. Long queues in the Pandals for trying out the mouth-watering dishes are a sight! Food is the essence of the soul and definitely give your diet a break, dress up in the best possible style you can be in and gorge on, you satisfied soul!

Till next time, ‘Shubo Durga Puja’. Don’t forget to send me your selfies and pics, I will be waiting!


Talks with my dearest Bengali friends and the links below: shopping/ puja-unveiling- the-magical-culture-of- bengal/ durga-puja- navratri/

Read more at: bengali-sarees- to-have-for- durga-puja/garad- pf67507-048974.html trends/6-festive- looks-ladies- this-is- how-you-rock-durga- pujas/story-odYXT8k1BssvnReCKN5GFJ.html

©Neeti Banga

Pix from sourced by author from Net and friends.

Neeti Banga

Neeti Banga

Neeti Banga, a fashion professional, is currently a faculty at her Alma Mater, NIFT, New Delhi. Her poems and short stories have won national and international awards. These are published in various anthologies. Her Poetry anthology, 'The Dewdrops...a journey begins', with two co-poets is a best seller. Wild, nomadic and romantic at heart, her gypsy soul finds solace in expression through painting and writing. She is penning her short story collection and her debut novel.
Neeti Banga

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