Ankit, a happy-go-lucky college-goer, is one of those people who doesn’t shop till they really have to. Durga Puja acts as his annual shopping reminder because he knows how disappointed his girlfriend Ananya usually gets when he shows up on Puja dates wearing old clothes. So, with Durga Puja barely a month away, it’s Ankit’s time to go Puja shopping.
Living in Kolkata during Puja is a blessing in itself. No one can escape the infectious energy that bristles throughout the city even months prior to the occasion itself. From young to old — the excitement of Puja shopping affects everyone. Even for those like Ankit, Puja shopping is a must-do annual ritual.
Well, Ankit may not be a happy shopper, but he certainly belongs to a minority. Living in Kolkata during Puja is a blessing in itself. No one can escape the infectious energy that bristles throughout the city even months prior to the occasion itself. From young to old — the excitement of Puja shopping affects everyone.
When Does It All Begin?
A true shopper has no season, but even the lazy ones start buckling up in the months of July and August. It’s funny and charming to see irritated shoppers scurrying for shelter as the rain washes over their afternoon plans. But, the City of Joy lives up to its epithet and beats both sweltering heat and ferocious downpour to fill their wardrobes with the best possible clothing. The din of hawkers vying for attention and the animated chatter of excited shoppers resonate through the air, as the city prepares to welcome the Goddess.
The Best Places for Puja Shopping in Kolkata
Kolkata is known for its versatility when it comes to food and clothing, and the residents make full use of this quality while shopping. Every corner of the city is packed with people trying to get their hands on the best deals and prices. Veterans in the job know where to go, but if you are new to this city, here are some places where you can look for clothes of your choice:
Ironically, New Market is actually Kolkata’s oldest market and was known by the name of Hogg’s market in the olden days. The fame of this place is so widespread that people from outside the city pour in to pay a visit as well. It accommodates more than 2000 stalls, and if you are up for some bargaining, this is the place you should be. Here, you will find everything, from clothing to accessories and shoes- at good prices. Of course, you can always bargain to fit the price to your budget. All you need to do is make a note of the nooks and crannies with the best goodies, and you are good to go.
Another prominent name among the oldest markets in the city, Hatibagan Market bears the quintessential North Kolkata feel. It will offer you the most authentic, chaotic Puja shopping experience. You will get everything at unbelievably affordable rates, which, to be honest, is a pretty sweet deal in these expensive times. Like New Market, this place is also divided into several sections selling specific goods. So starting with electronics, spices, and textiles to home décor and cosmetics, there’s something for every buyer. Besides, you cannot really bypass the series of junk jewellery shops on the pavement!
This is where the greats go shopping! There is a reason why Gariahat is packed to the brim during the Puja shopping season – it has the best possible varieties in all the sections that you can imagine. No matter how specific your tastes are, you will most certainly find something to match your style in this place. Gariahat is a bit more scattered than New Market and Hatibagan, but hey, you win some and you lose some, right? And if you feel that the prices here seem a bit higher, you can always bargain to your heart’s content.
If you have never visited College Street for your Durga Puja shopping spree, you must definitely do it this time! Although it is Kolkata’s favourite haunt for the most eclectic collection of books, the College Street market is equally lucrative for its famous saree shops – both old and new. You can buy the best of silks from here and can even grab that matching pair of sandals to complete your look. And being very close to the Sealdah Railway Station, College Street remains a huge favourite with people who reside in the suburbs, too.
Yes, malls are advantageous. They have every possible provision assimilated under one roof. Also, air conditioning- what can beat that? You get all the best brands, good deals and discounts, and in some cases, return gifts as well. Malls like South City, City Centre, Mani Square, Acropolis get tremendously crowded before Puja. Full parking lots, long winding queues outside the trial rooms and billing counters and jam-packed food courts are the usual sights. The best part of these shopping malls is that you can head straight to the food courts and restaurants after shopping, to replenish your energy levels; or even plan to watch a movie at the multiplexes.
The Beautiful Chaos of this Gorgeous City
Make no mistake the puja shopping spree is not all fun and games. It is tiresome! The entire city is in an uproar, with traffic coming to a standstill at certain points. There is pushing and shoving, crowding and overcrowding, fights breaking out between customers and shopkeepers, disappointment, anguish, pain — the tension and chaos is almost unbearable at times.
But, puja shopping is not just about jostling in the crowd and standing for hours for your turn at the billing counter. It is also about gorging on kati-rolls and phuchkas, getting your favourite biryani packed for dinner (after a tiring Puja shopping day, who’s going to cook at home?), spending time with family and friends, and keeping an eye on the hoardings announcing the pandal themes.
In a way, the festivities actually begin much before the Goddess arrives — when the Puja shopping season is in full swing!