As the countdown to Durga Puja begins, here is a list of places you need to visit during the Five day festival in Mumbai
A sparkle in the eyes is what the mention of ‘Durga puja’ does to a typical Bengali. And why not, a festival that denotes a five day reveling in prayers and savouring Maa Durga’s Bhog with friends and loved ones is bound to send waves of enthusiasm. This makes the countdown to the event every year quite painful for a Bengali.
For women in particular, it means buying traditional fineries, sarees, and jewellery to deck up for the pious festival. For youngsters, hopping between various Pandals with families and friends is the highlight of the festival that brings utmost cheer. It is believed that Maa Durga comes visiting her maternal home along with her children Lord Ganesha, Karthik and her sister Goddess Saraswathi. It is during this five day stay of her’s that us devotees gather together to offer her prayers, and in turn seek her blessings.
The festival of Durga Puja in Kolkata is a larger than life experience. With magnificent Pandals, artisans toil day and night to create magic for the numerous devotees who throng the city and it’s lanes to have a glimpse of their deity. It is worth a visit for the soul that yearns to revel in art and craft. Idols that stand huge with intricate details, come to life during this festival. It is a sight to behold, women folk dressed in sarees with red borders worshipping with deep devotion, a deity that promises to be their saviour.
For the Bengalis based in Mumbai, it is often a time they battle with pangs of home-sickness. But the city that never sleeps also vows to bring solace to each person who seeks shelter in her arms. The is the reason why every community’s festival is celebrated in Mumbai with pomp.
The evidence stands in the beautiful community Durga puja Pandals that the city hosts every year.
Here’s a list of FIVE most beautiful Durga Puja Pandals. Much assured, you will find the goddess Durga in all her splendour and can also treat your taste buds with a royal treat of Bengali delicacies.
1) Powai Bengali Welfare Association – The highlight of this Pandal is aspect of innovation. Every year striving for novel themes, this place flaunts creating the most beautiful shrine for Maa Durga. Sprawling across the stretch of Hiranandani Gardens in Powai Mumbai, this pujo pandal sees the biggest number of devotees every year. Famous singers such as Javed Ali and Palash Sen come to perform here and the highlight of the place is a Dhunuchi dance competition – where you hold an earthen pot filled with smoking coals and dance to the beats of a dhol. It leaves the spectators numb in awe as it almost sends every soul in a state of trans. A moment when you feel the Goddess has come alive and you revel in that moment with fervour. Promises to lend the best of both worlds, Kolkata and Mumbai, this One cannot be missed. The club and their members welcome one and all with great warmth and hospitality.
2) Balkanji Bari, Mukherjees – For those who want to spot some celebrities, be it for feasting on their attires or their jewellery or simply because of adulation, then this is the place to be. Tulip Star. Balkanji Bari, the house of none other than actress, Rani Mukherjee. Durga Puja, here, is hosted by the Mukherjees, mainly by Rani Mukherjee, Kajol and Tanuja. This pandal is star studded with glittering lights and musical programmes throughout the Five day celebrations. It is open to visitors all days during the Puja.
3) Shivaji Park’s Bengal Club – It is the oldest Durga Puja in the city. A little less on grandeur, but no less in exhibiting the traditions with finesse. It’s charm lies in the old heritage ways of creating a home for the Goddess. It surely does a grand job by dishing out savouries for the foodie Bengali replete with steaming hot mutton, chicken and fish chops, mountains of rice with fish Curries, rolls, stuffed parathas and of course, Bengali sweets galore. Baluchari, kantha and Taant sarees, and traditional terracotta jewellery from Paschimbanga are here as Mumbai’s gifts to the homesick Bengalis and shopaholics. This pandal is at the Bengal Club, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar West.
4) Ramakrishna Mission – The most authentic Puja, this mission boasts of the classic rituals that place them highest on the scale of rating for puja. The traditional Kumari Puja is the highlight of this pandal. In this puja, an eight-year-old girl is decked up on Ashtami day as GodDess Durga, made to sit on a throne and worshipped by a swarm of devotees who shower her with petals, make offerings to her and seek her blessings. It also serves a traditional warm Bhog for the devotees who come to revel here in the magic of Bengal. Guaranteed that if you make it to this pandal, you will yearn to come back again. Mark the address, Ramakrishna Mission Marg, 12th Road, Khar West.
5) Vashi, Sector 15 – For typical Bengalis, food is almost like oxygen. Gorging on delicacies is what defines Bengalis. To satiate these cravings, this place fits as the best hunt for foodies, Mughlai parathas, Kolkata’s famous biryani and rosogullas. You name it and it will be here. The crowd around these food stalls is what makes for a picturesque frame during Puja. The grandeur of the Goddess here is an equal treat to the eyes and soul. If you wish to come and pray to Maa Durga, you need to know this address. ICL School Ground, Sector 15, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, suring the days of Durga Puja.
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These are the Five Puja Mandaps where you can find Maa Durga in all her glory. You don’t want to miss her blessings, do you?
Other pandals you could visit are the Bengal Institute of Art & Culture in Mulund West, The North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Charitable Trust in Santacruz West, the Aponjan Cultural Association Puja in Mira Road East, The Assam Association Puja in Assam Bhawan at Vashi, the Kalbadevi Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee Event at Kalbadevi, Shakti Samanta’s Puja near National College at Bandra West and the Andheri Lokhandwala Sarvajanin Durgotsav.
It will be a great treat for all those who wish to revel in the culture of West Bengal. The Five day festival promises to be a breath-taking spectacle in the city of Mumbai.
By Anjali Banerjee