Durga Puja Pandal Hopping at Mumbai Nagariya (City)
Durga Puja is one of the most awaited festivals for Bengalis and if you are a bong yourself or if you’ve ever had a Bengali friend, you must have surely witnessed the crazy levels of excitement we have for Durga Puja. And why shouldn’t one? After all it’s the celebration of conquering the good over bad. It’s the celebration of the power of Goddess Durga. It’s a festival that brings the bongs together, no matter which part of the country we are in. Yes and that’s how even while staying far away from home in this tinsel town popularly known as Mumbai, we Bengalis haven’t given up on missing all the festive fun of Kolkata; in fact it is the only time of the year when the Bengali’s in Mumbai switch on to their true traditional mode.
Durga Puja in Mumbai may not be as glitzy and enticing as in the streets of Kolkata but it surely captures the magnificence and the bliss of the festival. During this time Bengalis and even non-Bengalis go pandal-hopping to seek the blessings of Maa Durga, offer puja (Anjali as we call it) and enjoy yummy bhog served at the stalls at the pandals. While the frenzy is much higher in Kolkata, Mumbai too has its fair share of Durga Puja Pandals that attract commoners as well as Bollywood celebrities. And if you want to celebrate Mumbai’s Durga Puja in a traditional bong way then here are few pandals that should be on top of your list!
Lokhandwala Durgotsav – For the mini Kolkata feel
This is one of the most popular Durga Puja pandals in the city and is headed by Bollywood singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya. The pandal is one of the most visited one and people flock from different parts of the city to pay their respects. With a shopping area, a food court, an auditorium for cultural events and the actual goddess pandal, this puja represents a mini Kolkata in itself. The puja is resplendent with numerous cultural events and sees performances by some of Bollywood’s biggest names.You can also offer anjali and enjoy the scrumptious bhog during the 4 days celebration. And if you have an ear for tunes then you can lift your puja spirit and shake your legs with 40 rhythmic Dhakis invited specially from Kolkata.
Stop: Lokhandwala Durga Puja Ground, Andheri West.
Bengal Club Puja, Shivaji Park: For the love of Bengali food
With approximately 10 lakh devotees every year, Bengal Club is definitely a major stop on your pandal hopping radar. Gearing up for its 81st year, Bengal Club can be considered one of the oldest and most popular Puja Mandaps of Mumbai. And its most amazing attraction is the huge food court. Bongs and non-bongs flock to this pandal for the yummy Kolkata platter it offers. One can gorge on hot chicken, mutton, fish chops and curries and of course the lip-smacking Bengali sweets.Not just this, there are stalls that sell jewellery, sarees and other accessories that women may want to buy on this special occasion. The pandal also performs Dhunuchi dance during the aarti.
Stop: Shivaji Park, Dadar.
Ramakrishna Math’s – For the age old traditions
This is the only venue in the city where you will witness the traditional Durga Puja. The over six-decade-old Durga Puja celebrations are known for their scriptural mode of worship. The idols are Ekchala (gods and goddesses together) and the monks look after the entire preparation and puja. The recitation of the bhajans and the rhythm of dhak transform the entire celebration to a serene spiritual one. On the day of Ashtami, you can witness the heart-warming Kumari Puja (a young girl worshipped as the goddess with the crowds showering flowers and seeking blessings from her). Also you can savour on the lip-smacking bhog here.
Stop: Ramakrishna Math, 12th Road, Khar (W).
North Bombay Durga Puja – For the celebrity touch
If you are keen on celebrity spotting then visit the North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja in Juhu. This puja is also famously known as ‘Mukherji Barir Pujo’ as you will find members of the Mukherjee family – especially Rani Mukherjee and Kajol actively taking part in the celebration. You can even see them serving bhog to the commoners who visit the pandal during this time. Another starry thing about this puja is that the Mandap is centrally air-conditioned. Beat that! The puja also host performances by some of the well-known Bollywood celebrities.
Stop: Tulip Star Hotel, Juhu.
Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav – For the eco-friendly touch
The Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav is organized by Powai Bengali Welfare Association. The pandal strives to be as eco-friendly as possible by using biodegradable substances and reducing the use of plastic. The organizers also distribute saplings during the Durgotsav. What uniqueness! Powai’s pandalis also thronged by a few celebrities and there are entertainment programs lined up by popular artists almost every year.