I have always wanted to experience how Kolkata celebrates Durga Puja. Trying to be there every year and then missing out the festival is very much heartbreaking. This year, Delhi made me cherish a part of it.
Chittaranjan Park is home to a number of Bengali families who have settled here. Every year this community celebrates Pujo in their traditional style. Every year, during Durga Puja, gorgeous pandals are set up and beautiful idols are installed, retelling the story of victory of good over evil.
The Pandals and Durga Idols
Pujo at Chittaranjan park is such an enigma that you cannot reach there if you are traveling after 6. I know people got stuck in traffic for 2.5 hours and couldn’t reach the venue until everything was over.
It is recommended to either reach Chittaranjan Park by 5 PM or choose other locations. There are pandals at Malviya Nagar, Safdarjang Enclave Matrimandir and Pashchim Vihar Bengali community where you can experience it with less crowd and same passion.
Pujo is not only about the gorgeous pandals and colourful idols. Food is also an essential part of Bengali culture and they make sure that they don’t miss out on this part.
Dozens of stalls on the streets of Chittaranjan Park spring up. These stalls are identical to the regular street scene of Kolkata, where street food is part of the regular life. Kolkata is probably the only place where I have seen a non vegetarian cuisine an essential of street food.
Of course, you’ll find stalls selling chat, jhal murhi, sweets and ghughni but then, I am not a person fond of the combination called vegetarian and Bengali.
Dhunuchi Nritya is a dance performance, seen during Durga Puja. Bengali ladies, in their gorgeous attires dance in front of Durga order to appease the goddess and receive the blessings. This dance is accompanied with the rhythmic dhak rolls. The pictures below are from Matrimandir Dhunuchi competition. I was amazed and mesmerized by the devotion and the style. It forced me to cross the barricade and click the pictures from the nearest point possible. For me, this was the best part of Pujo.
While ladies primarily perform this dance, (Bong ladies are pretty beyond any description) it is also performed by men, couples and in group.
I can totally understand people talk about post Pujo depression. Days of fun and frolic just goes away. Here you are celebrating, dancing to the tunes of dhak, dressed in your favorite saree and then it is all taken away from you. I missed Sendur Khela on the day of Vijayadashmi. When I reached the venue, everyone was already leaving for their homes.
May be next year, I’ll get to relish more of it.
How to experience Puja in Delhi
Durga Puja is celebrated primarily in Chittaranjan Park, this year there were 16 pandals in the area and it was fun hopping from one pandal to another. If you are planning to visit Chittaranjan Park then make sure that you are here by 5 PM, you will see less crowd and there is practically no line for the pandals. As the time proceeds, everything get crowded, it will kill your mood to travel this far and not able to experience anything.
Other areas that organize Pujo are Matri Mandir at Safdarjang enclave, Malviya Nagar and Pashchim Vihar. I’d recommend you to visit these locations instead of Chittaranjan Park only because the area faces a huge traffic problem and most of the roads are closed by the traffic police.
Disclaimer – If you feel any of the images posted should not be here, then do let me know and I’ll take it down.