Post “Pitr Paksha” (“Fortnight for Ancestors”), at the onset of autumn, Goddess Durga is worshiped with enormous fanfare and celebrations all over India. In North and South India, this period is celebrated with fasting and feasting as “Navratri” (“Nine nights of worship”). In Eastern India, Bengalis celebrate Durga Puja during the last five days of Navratri.
Durga Puja is around the corner and the main festival starts on Shashthi (Monday, 19th October, 2015) and continues till Vijayadashami (Thursday, 22nd October 2015).
The biggest cluster of such Pujas is found at Chittaranjan Park (C.R. Park). Almost every playground boasts an artistic marquee where huge clay idols of the Goddess and her children are worshiped for five days where-after the idols are immersed in the river Yamuna (or local water bodies).
The beat of dhak (Bengali drums) reverberate in the air. Added to that, the fantastic illumination at each pandal renders the Puja venue a fair like ambience.
While its prayers and community lunches during the day, cultural programs, featuring celebrated artists to local talents, are held in the evenings. The best mode of visiting the pandals is by foot since the surrounding roads are completely occupied by pedestrians who are out to celebrate. Entry of vehicles in this area is restricted during Durga Puja evenings. The closest Metro station to this place is Govindpuri and this may be a relatively easier to way to visit C.R. Park during these evenings.
The other popular Pujas are at G.K II, Hauz Khas, Minto Road, Kashmere Gate etc. In fact, the Kashmere Gate Puja is known to be the oldest community Durga Puja in Delhi.
In Gurgaon and Noida, there are various Bengali / Oriya or Assamese organisations that hold Durga Pujas. Additionally, the residents of many housing societies pool in and organise their own Durga Pujas.
Durga Puja has always been much more than a religious festival. Over time it has developed a carnival like feel. Notwithstanding whether one is a devotee or an atheist, everybody is welcome to join in. Hence, if you are not turned off by crowds, this is worth the experience.