Durga Puja is around the corner. It is the most awaited festival of Bengalis. It is the time when Maa Durga comes to visit her devotees. The five-day festival is celebrated with great pomp and fervour. The real charm of the festival can only be witnessed in West Bengal, especially in Kolkata with innovative theme pandals, traditional rituals, food and fun. Though the festival in Kolkata is larger than life experience, the Bengalis in Mumbai recreate the magic. From gorging on royal Bengali feast to celeb-spotting, these pandals gives every reason for you to be there. In 2017, Durga Puja begins on September 26 and ends on 30. Here’s our Mumbai guide to pandal hopping.
Powai Bengali Welfare Association: For innovative theme
Powai is an epicentre of Durga Puja. Initially started as an endeavour by the Powai Bengali Welfare Association (PBWA) has over the years established its own presence. The highlight of the pandal is its innovative theme, each year a replica of an architectural heritage in India is created. This year, the pandal is recreating the magic of the famous Golden Pagoda of Namsai in Arunachal Pradesh. The pandal in association with the Publishers’ Guild of India will organise a book festival called ‘The Reader’s Den’. Each year the pandal promotes a lost form of art in India and this year the pandal will showcase ‘Raibeshe’. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s popular dance drama ‘Taasher Desh’ will be staged along with Bengali fusion rock band Chandrabindu.
Address: Hiranandani Gardens, Near Hiranandani Bus Stand, Powai
Also read: Know Navdurga, the nine forms of Navdurga
Chembur Durga Puja Association: For stuff from rural Bengal
Started in 1954, Chembur Durga Puja Association sees over 1.5 lakh devotees each year. With the traditional puja, aarti and bhog, the pandal also organises cultural activities planned out over the five days. The place is popular for the authentic Bengali lip-smacking delicacies. There is also an entertainment area for children. The stalls put up by artisans from rural Bengal is a must visit.
Where: Chembur High School Ground, Swami Vivekananda Chowk, Chembur East
North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga: For celeb-spotting
North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Samiti is celebrating its 70th year. The idol is 17 feet tall and the materials for making the idol have been sourced from Kolkata. The pandal is popular for celebrity spotting and you will find members of the Mukherjee family – especially Kajol, Tanuja and Rani Mukherjee – serving bhog. You can also witness performances of well-known Bollywood celebrities.
Address: Tulip Star Hotel, Vaikunthlal Mehta Road, Juhu
Ramakrishna Math & Mission Puja: For Kumari puja
The usual serene atmosphere of the Ramakrishna Math gets a transformation during the Durga puja. The venue is popular for the traditional Durga Puja and the highlight of the event is the Kumari Puja on Mahashtami. The age-old custom of Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda, where a young girl is worshipped as Goddess symbolising the power that regulates the creation, stability and destruction of the Earth.
Address: Ramakrishna Mission Marg, 12th Road, Khar West
Lokhandwala Durga Puja: For a complete festive package
The Lokhandwala Durga Puja celebration is headed by singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya is celebrating its 22nd year. The pandal is popularly known as ‘Abhijeet’s Pujo’. The pandal is splendid with numerous cultural events, and extravagant setting, shopping area and food court. There are several events lined-up during the festival to keep you entertained.
Address: Lokhandwala Complex, Lokhandwala, Andheri West
Bombay Durgabari Samiti – For eco-friendly celebration
In its 88th year, Bombay Durgabari Samiti is turning eco-friendly by installing an eco-friendly idol with ‘Eik Chaler Thakur’ theme, meaning all the Gods are covered in one halo, in a palace themed decor. During Durga Puja Tejpal Hall will be transformed into a palace decorated with pearls, semi-precious stones, and vintage chandeliers. Durga Puja isn’t complete without lip-smacking Bengali delicacies, among the many delicacies served there will be Kolkata’s Phuchka, Jhal Muri and Bhande kore chaa. Other highlights of the pandal include Samagan – a combination of Bharatnatyam and Odissi, performances by Adriza and Adrij, winners of a popular music show and ‘Raibenshe’ – a martial war dance from Bengal.
Address: Vikas Building, G Vaidya Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort