Dates: 7-11 October 2016
Mother Goddess has been an integral part of our worship arguably dating back to Harappan days. This tradition has passed all conceivable tests of time and is still going strong all over the sub continent.
The Mother Goddess has various forms and she is worshipped as Durga during Navratri that is observed almost all over India. Bengalis observe this festival as Durga Puja for the last 5 days of Navratri, i.e., Shashti to Dashami. Over time, thousands of more Bengalis have migrated for professional reasons and have made Delhi- Gurgaon- Noida their home. Along with them, they have got their autumnal ritual – Durga Puja to NCR. Consequently more than a thousand Durga Pujas are held here.
Chittaranjan Park or C R Park has the highest concentration of Durga Pujas, and during the festival days, the area transforms into a carnival zone. Every park has a Puja to boast. In line with other years, elaborate marquees or pandals with exquisite decorations were erected as make shift shrines for Durga who comes with her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik.
Braving the stupendous Durga Puja traffic towards C R Park on Shashthi evening, we managed to reach the area at about 9 in the evening. Most entrys to C R Park was blocked for outsiders. Therefore parking was a fight. However patience paid off and after a few rounds we managed to find some space at GK M Block off C R Park. The puja venues were a short work from here.
The sound of dhak, the Bengali drums, beckoned us from a distance. We were soon visiting our first puja at Shibmandir.
It was quite late at night by then but the crowd patiently moved from one pandal to other for looking at the Durga idols, watching cultural performances and stuffing themselves up with Bengali and other kinds of street food. Most of them were in new clothes. Girls in sarees and men in kurtas and dhotis were common sights.
We also saw the following Durga idols:
Outside C R Park we saw some Pujas at Vivekananda Samiti behind SDA Market, Valley View Estate in Gurgaon and Trinagar. Interestingly, at the Trinagar Puja, we came across singers singing Hindi Bhajans and paens to the Mata in an essential Bengali festival. Kudos to unity in diversity in our country.
The Safdurjung Puja deserves special mention not only because of its grandeur but also we saw women dhakis (dhak players) for the first time. Dhak drumming has traditionally been a male bastion and what can be a more befitting tribute to Goddess Durga than women breaking the glass ceiling of playing the dhak.
Shubho Bijoja to all our readers!