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Durga puja - when the goddess descends 01

The early morning fragrance, the festive chaos, the sumptuous delicacies, the never ending family talks and whole lots of fun. All this and much more are synonymous with what we call as festivals. In a nation, where every month in the calendar is filled with at least two or three red colored dates, each festival is celebrated with equal vigor and fervor. Each has its own significance and distinct flavor. In short, festivals are a perfect excuse to let the hair down and yet stay rooted to culture and tradition. (Picture – The Idol. Credit: Miss Tick)

Durga Puja (known as Dushhera in other parts of the country) is one festival, which the people of West Bengal hold close to their heart. Although, the capital of the state Kolkata boasts of  gorgeous theme based pandals and food, Hyderabad is no less. Every year extravagant pujas are organized in various parts of the city. Masab Tank, Balanagar, Charminar, Hakimpet, Alwal, Keyes High School, Sri Ramakrishna Math (near Indira Park) and Hyderabad Kalibari are some of the well known places, where Durga Puja is organized on a large scale. Hyderabad Bangalee Samiti is one of the oldest committee organizing the Puja dating back to nearly 6 decades.

Puja Pandal. Location: Keyes High School. Credit: Miss Tick

Puja Pandal. Location: Keyes High School. Credit: Miss Tick

Mahalaya (the day when the goddess is welcomed) marks the beginning of Durga Puja and traditionally the puja begins on this day but the various clubs and committees, who organize the puja across the country start it on the 6th day (shashti) of Navaratri and the celebrations continue till the 9th day. On the 10th day, sweets, beetle leaves and vermilion is offered to the Goddess to bid farewell and the idol immersion takes place on this day marking the end of the festivities.

The festival has a different meaning for everyone yet one common thread, which binds them all is the feel good factor associated with it. For some it is reviving childhood memories and spending quality time with relatives. For others, Puja is time for bonding with family and friends, gorging on the endless goodies and looking their best. “I get the puja feeling when I go on a shopping spree, its one time you can splurge on clothes and the whole when-will-I-wear-what process is very exciting”, says Tannavi. There are some, who come down to Hyderabad from other places during this time to witness the festivities. Indranil, a student of history in Delhi University, who spent the puja here says, “Hyderabad is like home away from home and spending Durga Puja was a pleasure. This is one time of the year I feel like a proud Bengali even though I’m out of Bengal (smiles).”

As a part of the programmes organized, bollywood singers like Javed Ali (of Jashn-e-Bahara fame), Reality show winners, Folk artistes from bengal etc are often flown in to enthrall audiences and are massive crowd pullers. “The Chauu Dance performance in Keyes High School this year was the best folk dance performance I’ve watched in long time. Oh my god! I had goose bumps when they I saw those people doing those stunts. It felt great that such art forms were brought into limelight”, elaborates Trishnanta.

Participants. Credit: Indranil Acharya

Puja enthusiasts. Credit: Indranil Acharya

Even Non-Bengalis take part in the celebrations and are equally excited to learn a little about the tradition and have fun at the same time. “My neighbours, friends come and take part in the competitions organized. They LOVE the food and entertainment package!” exclaims Mahua, a science student from St.Francis College.

Although the meaning of puja has metamorphosized over the years, what remains constant is the idea of showing our gratitude to the Goddess, who epitomizes the good over evil theory and the way everyone comes together for a few days to indulge in happiness, rituals and lots of good food.

The wait begins for next year when the Goddess will descend once again and as the saying goes Aasche bochor aabar hobe (Bless us again, coming year).

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