Mumbai: The oldest pandal in Mumbai, , is celebrating its 93rd year at Tejpal Complex, Grant Road. Every year during Navratri, thousands of devotees throng prominent Durga pandals.
Maa Durga is worshipped in many forms, one of which is Mahishasura Mardhini, the one who slayed the buffalo demon Mahisasura.
From October 1 to October 5, pandals this year are featuring different kinds of themes depicting eco-friendly idols of Maa Durga in her various forms slaying the demon.
"This year the theme is Nutan Alo (New Light). After two years of darkness, we are emerging into a new light with the blessings of Maa Durga. We are taking a different new view on life," said Susmita Mitra, president of the samiti.
Maa Durga will be adorned with Taarer Shaaj - jewellery crafted from fine wires - a dying art form from the interiors of West Bengal that is considered painful as the fingers get cut while making it.
"During this time Maa Durga visits her mother's house. We invite and welcome her with her children," explained Mitra.
“The sixth day of Navratri is observed as ‘shashti’, we perform the 'bodhon puja' which is done after installing the idol. On Saptami -the seventh day - the Maha Saptami Puja will be performed which will be followed by Pushpanjali later," said Priyanka Basu, who handles the press for the Samiti.
On Maha Saptami day, around 3,000-3,500 people including children from slum areas, will be served with ‘bhog’. Bhog will be served on all three days starting from Saptami. The Samiti, which prides itself in being a nonsectarian and philanthropic trust, will also organise a number of philanthropic activities during the festival.
These range from organising priority darshan for the physically-challenged and specially-abled children from Agripada, Santacruz and Antop Hill. Children from slum areas will be enthralling the audience with their performances.
Ashtami day, which is the most important one, will have Shondi Puja. Shondikhand is the meeting point of Ashtami and Navami. One hundred and eight diyas will be lit and the Puja done at an auspicious time that varies every year. This year it is around 3.45 pm.
On Navami day there will be Kumari Puja. Besides ‘dhunuchi naach’ and ‘sindoor khela’ that happens every year, dhaakis (drums) are a special attraction this year. Other highlights will be stalls of artisans from Shantiniketan, performances by Amit Kumar, Kishore Kumar's son, and Bbhumi band from Kolkata among others.