Durga Puja is not just a festival but an emotion for Bengalis. While Kolkata gears up to celebrate the festivities with all pomp and show, the ones who live in Mumbai won't feel less of a celebration. The Probashi Bengalis in Mumbai have, for years, welcomed Ma Durga with equal grandeur, and the pandals in the city have grown in numbers and popularity.
Being a probashi Bengali living in Mumbai for years, this puja is special as I am away from my family. Nevertheless, Mumbai has a lot of popular Durga Puja pandals—some with interesting themes, others popular with celebrities.
During Maha Panchami, the fifth day of Navratri, the Durga idols are unveiled to the devotees. We hopped on to some of the popular pandals boasting different themes and decor. These puja pandals are among the oldest pujas in Mumbai and have maintained to be among the top pujas on the list of all the Probashi Bengalis in the city.
Bombay Durga Bari Samiti at Tejpal Hall
One of the oldest Puja Pandal, Bombay Durga Bari in South Bombay, is a must-visit, not just for Bengalis but for all those who enjoy the annual festivity.
Entering the 94th year, the pujo pandal for this year is decked up to enchant devotees with a distinctive theme: 'Ode to Folk Art'. It features a captivating display of 'Patachitra,' a traditional art form from West Bengal and Odissa.
Sushmita Mitra, President, Bombay Dura Bari Samiti, said, "Each year, a new theme allows us to promote culture and language, giving Probashi Bengali a taste of home. We keep it simple, focusing on rituals and culture, passing on our rich heritage to the next generation, and bringing Bengal to Mumbai." Apart from the pandal, the evenings will also be set with exciting cultural events, including performances by the committee members, "And a special Boul Sangeet.”
Bengal Club Durga Puja-Shivaji Park
Another puja is the popular Bengal Club Durga Puja at Shivaji Park in Dadar. The 88-year-old puja organised by the hundred-year-old club will see a grand celebration. Expect exuberant sets, chandeliers, and a stunning 19-foot-tall Maa Durga idol. .
Joy Chakraborty, Spokesperson, Bengal Club, said, "The puja this year needs to be grand because we have completed 101 years of the club. We are looking forward to a big celebration."
If you are just like me, missing home during the festivities, consider visiting these puja pandals to make you feel at home. From Pushpanjali and Sindoor Khela to having the bhog and dancing to the beats of Dhaaks, pandal hopping this year promises to be an exciting experience full of fervour. So, all Mumbai's Probashi Bengalis, gear up to flaunt your best attire and move this puja to enjoy the five days of limitless adda sessions before they say 'Ashche Bochor Abar Hobe'!