Oh my Gosh! Finally I had a proper look around many Durga Puja Pandals. It was actually 15 Pandals in 3 days. It might not be a lot. But I did manage to visit 5 Pandals each day. These were a mixture of hard work and moreover LUCK! I read somewhere on the internet that, Mumbai has 91 Durga Pandals, well out of that seeing 15 isn’t that bad! I might get some extra wheels under my feet for next year so that I can cover more Durga Pujas.
I started off my Tour-De-Mumbai on Oct-20; trust me I never thought I could be all over Mumbai so much! I am one lazy person. I guess food was the motivation here. 1 mistake that I did was I didn’t click a single picture of the food.
A brief meaning of Durga Puja for all those readers out there who are unaware of it. It is a festival we Bengalis celebrate. A festival that denotes culture, color, art and food. It is as grand as a ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’. Youth flirts, mothers eat and gossip, fathers discusses more POLITICS and games, while children run here and there and most of the time they get lost. Seriously, half the time I hear the announcements saying, so and so child is lost and is at the main inquiry counter. LOL! Trust me it’s a festival that is the most awaited by the Bengalis. I do wait for it the entire year. We worship Goddess Durga along with Lord Ganesha, Goddess Laxmi, Goddess Saraswati and Lord Kartikeyan. These are the main idols we have during Durga Puja. But there’s always a photo of Lord Shiva behind Durga Maa. It is one time in the entire year where you can see all the Bengalis (talking about Mumbai City) together.
Well now about the Tour-De-Mumbai, I started off with Pragati Durga Puja, Andheri West on 21st October. Me and my MA had the Bhog at Pragati. Well Bhog means the food that we offer to the God and then is eaten by all. There are many groups in Mumbai who organize Durga Puja, and everyone has a different version of Bhogs. Usually bhog consists of, Khichuri, delicately spiced mix vegetable, baiguni (fried Aubergine) tomato chutney, and sweet. It is this culinary line-up that forms the core of the Puja. The food might seem very simple to many, but again it’s all about the taste and the feel of being in a Puja. I can have this food for the rest of my life. Trust me it is that YUMMY! After Pragati, I went along with my mom to Santacruz East Puja which is generally arranged in the railway colony and mostly by Railway employees. Laugh at me if you’ll want to, but I did go there and ate more Bhog. I can eat as much you give. After this we came back home – tired of over eating and went to sleep.
On the same evening we decided to visit the nearby Pandals. I was all the time with my camera trying to capture the perfect click, but I am not a photographer, so I don’t get the perfect click like my very talented Photographer friends like Amit Shetty and Kartik Sharma but I managed to get something which is not half bad (I hope). We first saw the Poonam Complex Durga Puja, which was the best. Out of all the 15 that I have seen this year, this was the best one. It had an idol of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma behind their respective partners. I am a hardcore Shiva and Durga devotee, and I was in love with the entire concept. After a few good clicks from here and talking to a few Bengali Maashimas (aunties) about more Durga Puja, we headed for the next one. The next was just Fifteen minutes away from this one. It was a smaller affair with very few people. I also had the chance to capture the Dhunochi dance at this Puja. Ladies were dancing without caring about the world while the Dhaakis were high playing the music. It was a delight to watch. I was able to capture a nice video of the Dhunochi Dance, which I will later upload on YouTube and then post the link here. After which we went further and found another Durga Puja at a distance of Fifteen minutes walk. This one was near my school; again a small affair. I am still confused as to why do they have three different Pandals in the same area when they can have the one which can be a Grand Deal? Well anyway, because of all the three Pandals I was able to complete my target of 5 Puja – a Day! Completely tired and excited for the next day, we reached home and literally fell on the bed.
The next day was Ashtami, one of the most important days of the Puja. I along with my mom, Bhai and Bodo Maashi (Bodo – Eldest, Maashi – Maternal aunt) went to a Durga Puja at Dahisar. After offering the Pushpanjali (offering flowers along with prayers to the Goddess) had the bhog here. The bhog was again the same thing minus the baiguni. It was much more organized here. The bhog was served in a big Dona (container like thing). It was yummy as always. After the stomach filling bhog, we left for home and in the evening, I with my aunt and mom went in the search of more Durga Pujas in Kandivali and Malad Area. The evening went a lot in searching and more about traveling in the above mentioned areas.
Finally we found one Durga Puja in Thakur Complex, after visiting and clicking we asked a few people on the roads (I had to – My mom and Maashi were already angry with me as I just bought them along with me and had no idea where to go). A lady told us that there is another Puja just at a 10 minutes distance. The lady took us till the place and this one was quite huge compared to the first one.
Next Destination was Malad east. The truth is it wasn’t a destination for us, but a wrong turn that led me to another Puja. This was a very small one. But it was serene in here as it was very quiet. Obviously most of the Bongs reading this would think what fun in a quiet Durga Puja, but again for people who travel every day in the chaotic local trains which is hardly quiet, for them something like this is good. We sat here and chatted for more than 30 minutes after which left for the Bangur Nagar Puja, Goregaon. I had been to this Puja some five years ago and had a crush on a guy then. And I met the guy this time. He had grown fatter than I had last seen him and I was comparatively thinner than he had last seen me. We did talk this time. I had the guts to and I came to know that his parents are looking for a girl to get their son married. I actually had a run of my life after hearing that. As the Bangur Nagar Puja is so huge and crowded that even if he would have tried to search for me he couldn’t have. This was the end f the Day 2.
Day 3 began with lots of enthusiasm as I knew it’s the last day to visit the Pandals. The bhog was at Banga Sangha, Bhayander. This is the place where my Best Friend’s mom and dad are the members. After a chat with my friend while having my Khichuri, we left. Mom then said she wants to see another Pandal on Talav Road, which is approximately 15-20 minutes from there. We did go there and guess what? We had Bhog again! This particular place had lined up Shukto Bhaat. Shukto is a bitter curried mix vegetable delicacy made by Bengalis. Most of us relish it. I do! So I had Shukto Bhaat again finally went home to fall on the bed. It is so necessary to take rest after having the Bhog during the Durga Pujas. It’s a ritual followed at my place during Durga Puja, wherein we eat Bhog at the Puja and then come home and sleep, and evening get back to some more fun and frolic.
The evening was super fun as it was pre-planned and everything organized. It was just me and mom again but we started off with Khar – Ram Krishna Mission. We had Fuchkas (Bengali Pani Puri), Shingara (Bengali Samosa), and Mishti Doi (sweet curd). Mission is a very cultured and very traditional place, there isn’t anything non-veg that you’d get here. After Khar, the next was Bandra, well what should I say about the Bandra Puja – I met the hottest guy here! He was actually a man, maybe in his mid or late thirties (maybe even more) but he was a delight to watch. After a few exchanges of stares we decided to move on as it was getting late. The next and the last was Shivaji Park, Dadar Puja. This one’s a humongous affair. It is one of the largest ones, with a big ground to eat and shop Bengali stuff. I did purchase 2 traditional bangles, 1 earring and 1 hand bag. We had Mughlai Paratha, Eleesh Macher Jhol and Bhaat here. Quite expensive but worth every paisa!
This was the end of this year’s Durga Puja. Yesterday was Dussera and as every year my mom cooked Mutton Curry and my neighbor who is a Manglorean sent us 4 types of vegetable, payassam, sambhar and Banana leaf to eat our food on that. My dussera was spent in Bong-Bunt tradition! Not bad at all!
This was all about it. My long leave now comes to an end. I have my shifts from tomorrow and I am back to underwriting and working in US Shifts!
- Durja Puja Around (trishanka.wordpress.com)
- Durga Puja begins (assamtribune.com)
- Happy Durga Puja, Durga Puja in Dhaka-Bangladesh (bangladesh2u.com)
- Bengalis celebrate Durga puja with fervour (thehindu.com)
- President greets people on Durga Puja (thehindu.com)
- Mohd Tazmul is defying clerics to worship Goddess Durga (ibnlive.in.com)
- Shubho bijoyar shubhechcha/wishsing you a happy bijoya dashami (spicesandpisces.wordpress.com)
- Mumbai Bengalis all set to celebrate Durga Puja (vancouverdesi.com)
- Durga Puja celebrated in Indonesia (vancouverdesi.com)
- Love in the time of Durga Puja (ndtv.com)