Celebrating Festive Calcutta


Jaydeep Mukherjee says even Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival will look somewhat small-scale compared to Calcutta’s Durga Puja festival.

Mukherjee said during a Wednesday Toronto gathering that the mid-October celebration amounts to the “biggest cultural event in the world,” drawing some 80 million visits over its five days.

“It’s full of life, full of colour, full of interaction,” he said of the event, which sees dazzling nighttime displays of light.

Mukherjee’s colleague Raj Banerjee said Calcutta’s “awake 24 hours for those five days. In the night, it’s so colourful.”

He added the festival is celebrated in other parts of India, but not with the same intensity as seen in Calcutta.

Preparations for the festivities may start as early as February, underscoring the work that goes into it, he said.

Meghdutam Travels, an IATA-accredited passenger sales agent, has offices in Calcutta and Montreal, and plans to open a Toronto office this year. Mukherjee said his company can send clients throughout India, including tours that may enable participants to spot elusive tigers. Other options include the Himalayas, scuba diving off remote tropical islands and such storied sites as the Taj Mahal.

Banerjee added his company can send clients on spiritual circuits of India that feature prominent holy places.

Meanwhile, Anil Oraw of India Tourism told the Toronto event that interest in India is on the upswing. “Everybody’s telling me that India is looking good.”

Pictured are (l-r) Eugene Correia, India Tourism, Banerjee and Oraw.