It’s October! The most awaited month in the calendar of a Bengali. It’s also the month of holidays - Gandhi Jayanti, Lakshmi Puja, Bhai Phonta, Bakri Eid – this is the month of unlimited socialising and fun, but most importantly, it’s the month of Durga Puja. And for us, who stay away from our beloved Bengal, it’s the time of the quintessential 'ghore phera'.
Durga Pujo, this time with major days during the weekdays, left very less room for any rollicking and indulgent plans. But, our year long wait for these few days of fun can’t go in vain, can they.
For the last few years I haven't, or rather, couldn't visit Kolkata during the Pujo and this year hasn’t been an exception. Grown quite used to it - that’s what I am like now. But, as the old Bangla adage goes: Doodher swad ghole metano (দুধের স্বাদ ঘোলে মেটানো), this does call for a trip to the nearest place for Pujo madness, which happens to be Mumbai for me. Puja in Mumbai, as I have experienced in the last few years, is unaffectedly simple, elegant and do retain an old worldly charm to them. The number of pandals is markedly less throughout the city and its outskirts. In a day, most of them can be visited without hassles or change of plans.
I like to visit the magnificent Shivaji Park Durga Pujo for its Thakurbari appeal and awe-inspiring Bengali snack stalls, the Lokhandwala Pujo for its artsy-craftsy decor and feel, the Mukherjee bari Pujo for a glimpse of a good old Bollywood patriarch and his family's traditional Pujo, the Bandra Pujo for their mouth watering Khichuri bhog and lastly, the Ramakrishna Mission Pujo at Khar, which is what any puja is all about in the first place: devout and spiritual. Round this up with a visit to the Pujos of Navi Mumbai and you have an experience to boast of.
But mostly, my plans for this Pujo are that of spending quality time with my near ones, meeting and exchanging happiness with them, and rejuvenating myself so that the travails and toils give way to new found strength and hope, for the next Pujo, maybe.
This article proves that Bengalis, wherever they are, never dither to have a good celebration during Durga Puja.
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