PALGHAR : Durga Puja, the biggest event in the festival calendar of the Bengali community and a major festival for other communities of eastern India such as Oriyas and Assamese, commences today. The festival is celebrated by a large population in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) comprising of Mumbai city, Mumbai suburbs and parts of Thane, Pa-lghar and Raigad distri-cts, where over 100 ‘sarvajanik’ Durga Pooja pandals are erected during this period.
The most prominent Durga Pooja is held at Shivaji Park in Dadar, while one of the oldest Durga Pooja is held in Kalbadevi. It is predominantly organised by goldsmiths and artisans.
Themes have become an integral part of Durga Pooja celebrations in the last decade, according to Debasish Saha, Treasurer of Pragati, a prominent socio-cultural and welfare association in Palghar district of Vasai. Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the flame of the immortal soldier, will be theme for their pooja this year.
The Amar Jawan Jyoti, which serves as India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is a marble cenotaph consisting of a rifle and a helmet with the words ‘Amar Jawan’ inscribed on it. “We’re trying to recreate it. It’s a tribute to our armed forces, para-military forces, and policemen who maintain constant vigil and keep us safe,” said Shubhra Sarkar, senior managing committee member of Pragati. This year, the pooja will be conducted off Diwan Market at Evershine City in Vasai (E).
“Our artistic pandal decorations have made a lasting impression on pandal-hoppers. Wherever Bengalis have settled they have conducted Durga Pooja. This tradition is more than a century old in Mumbai and its suburbs,” said Ruma Bose, a member of Pragati. “Food is a huge part of the festival and street stalls blossom all over Kolkata and Mumbai. In the evenings, streets of Mumbai are filled with people, who come to perform pooja, admire the statues of Goddess Durga, and eat and celebrate,” added Bose.