The five-day annual revelry that engulfs Kolkata come October is upon us—Durga Puja, when the City of Joy shakes itself out of sweet slumber and embraces cultural frenzy. Folks have begun to wake up to the sound of dhaak and in some greener pockets of the city, even the scent of shiuli, the night-blooming jasmine typical to puja season. Allowances have been made for greasy, if home-made, cutlets and kormas, and purchases that may not be strictly necessary. However, 2020 is the year of the pandemic, and autumn is not exempt. Amid fresh regulations from the Calcutta High Court that limit pandal entry to 45 people at one time, and a host of other precautions put in place by organisers themselves, Kolkata is embracing a puja markedly different from what it usually sees.
A writer and a photographer hit the streets on the eve of the festivities, ready to responsibly capture snippets from a city celebrating a pandemic Pujo.
Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.
Arhan Sett is a freelance photographer and independent filmmaker from Kolkata. He shoots travel photographs, landscapes, portraits and urban wildlife, often exploring symmetry visually and narratively.