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Tapati Guha-Thakurta: Durga Puja Tours and Travels - The City as an Exhibitionary Realm

Each year, Kolkata’s Durga Puja scales new heights as the most spectacular, extravagant and publicized event in the city’s calendar.

There is a long history of the transforming life of this biggest religious festival of Bengal into a civic communitarian event, a time of mass public festivity, a mega consumerist carnival and a city-wide street exhibition. This history, in its many frames, takes us back to different points of time in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There is also a shorter history of the present—one that brings us to the first decade of the twenty-first century—where we see the festival assuming a special artistic profile that is unique to the contemporary city, confronting us with new categories of Durga Puja ‘art’ and ‘artists’ - From Tapati Guha-Thakurta's book In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata.

Readings:

Guha-Thakurta, Tapati, In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata. Delhi: Primus Books, 2015, 'Introduction' (download here), and 'The City of the Festival' (download here)
Ghosh, Anjan, 'Contested Spaces: Puja and its Publics in Calcutta', in Anjan Ghosh, Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Janaki Nair (eds) Theorizing the Present: Essays for Partha Chatterjee. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.(download here)

Puja image (from Tapati Guha-Thakurta book)


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