Durga Puja 2017 – A Photo Story

I remember walking around Durga Puja pandals in my hometown holding the hands of my parents. The announcements of children being lost and looking for their parents used to terrify me a lot. Time went by, pandal hopping continued. Parents were replaced by friends and new friends kept replacing old ones.

Durga Puja’s fun and frolic is way too superior to any festival all year round. My work and my travels stole a huge part of this pandal hopping from me but then I got it back when during my time spent in Delhi.

Durga Puja Delhi
Durga Puja Pandal at Festival Ground
Durga Puja Chittaranjan Park
Selfie inside a selfie
Chittaranjan Park Durga Puja
One of the most beautiful idols at C R Park

Observing the Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata has been a life long dream. The gorgeous pandals, the mouthwatering food stalls and the extravaganza of culture and rituals tempt me to leave my routine and become a part of the celebrations myself.

Delhi holds this special part of this festival in the lanes of Chittaranjan Park. The Bengali community in Malviya Nagar, Safdarjang Enclave and Pashchim Vihar also celebrate Pujo in their respective areas with the same grandeur and enthusiasm.

Chittaranjan Park Food
The paan shops have a special charm during this festival
Durga Puja Pandals Chittaranjan Park
A beautiful idol of Maa Durga at C R Park
Delhi Durga Puja
Another idol from the next pandal
How to experience Durga Puja in Delhi
A dhak performer beating the drums during evening Aarti

Lucky for people like me who wish to get a glimpse of Pujo without traveling all the way to Kolkata. These members of Bengali community have heart larger than the pujo pandals they build and welcome you as if you are one of their own. These happy bunch of people consider Maa Durga as a member of their family. They welcome her like a daughter who has come home from her sasural (in laws place) after a year and then bid her goodbye with emotions running high.

Chittaranjan Park festivals
Festive Feels
Dhak Durga Puja
Dhak Performer

Speaking of Durga Puja is incomplete without talking about the food. Chittaranjan Park is a popular hangout spot for the foodies all year long but during Pujo this love elevates to a whole new level. There are umpteen small food stalls selling egg rolls, mutton ghughni, different varieties of sweets, fish and egg pakodas, shawarma, Kabiraji, biryani, chaat, kachori, mishti doi and what not.  Every pandal has a certain specialty when it comes to food. The Kali Bari has an array of Oriya sweets (Sweets from Orissa state) while the mela ground is frequented by the chaat lovers.

Mutton Ghughni
This Mutton Ghughni was Spicy like Anything
As assortment of pakodas near CR Park arket
Chittaranjan Park food walk
Talk of the town – CR Park Bhunjawala
Food walk Delhi
Make your own bhunja
CR Park food guide
This Shawarma guy had a busy day
Food walk Chittaranjan Park
Delicious Chicken and Mutton Kebabs
Non Veg food in Delhi
More Kebabs

What makes the Durga Puja celebrated by the Bengali Community special is some of the rituals that one can see during the festival. The Durga aarti is one such ritual. It starts at the time suggested by the priests and then goes on for an hour. Durga Puja aarti is someone similar to Ganga Aarti in Varanasi, the only difference being the respective goddesses for whom the aarti is dedicated to. Dhak or dhol performers play their drums in an open space near the idol and continue for an hour or so. The sound of the drums uplifts the atmosphere of Durga Puja by several degrees.

Durga Puja Kolkata
This Dhak had a spicejet product placement
Indian festivals
Evening Durga Aarti
Durga Idols Delhi
Evening Aarti session at Chittaranjan Park

Then comes Dhunuchi, a dance ritual performed by primarily by Bengali Women and sometimes by men. The idea behind the Dhunuchi Dance is to appease Goddess Durga. To do so, devotees perform Dhunuchi along with the rhythmic beats of Dhak during Durga Puja. The devotees balance an earthen bowl containing burning incense either with their hands, forehead and sometimes even with mouth.

The women start with the performance, the dhaks start playing matching to the footsteps of the performer. The performer dances their way around Maa Durga’s idol while almost going in a state of trance.

Dhunuchi Dance durga Puja
A Dhunuchi performer seeks blessings from Maa Durga while the Dhak performers play in the background.

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On the morning of Dashmi, Maa Durga is given an emotional sendoff. The rituals start with Darpan Visarjan, which is a symbolic way to bid Maa Durga goodbye. On the last day of Puja the rituals are completed after the priest shakes the “Kalash” that was placed on the first day of Pujo. This Kalash is kept on the day one of pujo to welcome the goddess. Post this the head priest of the pandal performs Darpan Visarjan (Mirror Immersion). A mirror is placed on a plate of water. It is said that this water and mirror absorb energy from the idol. Everyone present during this event is encouraged to see the reflection of the idol and her feet through the mirror.

After this a ladder is placed in from of Maa Durga. The women climb this ladder and feed the Goddess for a happy journey.

Durga Idol Immersion
The devotees observing Durga’s reflection in the mirror
Durga Idol Visarjan Delhi
Devotees feeding Maa Durga for a happy journey

Dashmi Rituals Chittaranjan Park

Finally, the women rub red vermilion on each other cheeks. This ritual is known as Sendur Khela and is usually performed by Married Women of the community.

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The three days of Durga Puja took me back to my childhood. It was all about meeting new people, becoming friends with the friends of my friends and eating good food. This year, I had so much fun all by myself. I met new people, had good food and got some really good shots. I hope I spend my next Pujo in Kolkata and get a more authentic feeling of the festival.

Roopam dehi, jayam dehi, yasho dehi dwisho Jahi! 


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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. mackintoshtravels.com

    Interesting to read about this culture. Also, amazing photos!

  2. lepetitewears

    Amazing photos and the culture!

  3. Indu

    Beautiful photo story with spiritual aura of Durga puja. I relished greatly. I venerate Durga Goddess as my Supreme Mother.

    1. ansh997x

      That’s amazing. Thank you @Indu for dropping by.

  4. Medha Verma

    I am from Delhi and as a child, I went to Chittranjan Park several times, have seen it and loved it. I have never been to Kolkatta though, but I am pretty sure we capture the vibe and the energy in our Delhi pandals very effectively. Love your pics, thanks for sharing!

    1. ansh997x

      Thanks for the appreciation @Megha. I have never been to Kolkata but the vibe and energy is definitely off the charts in Delhi during this festival.

  5. midnightmusings

    It’s always a pleasure to read about our very own Durga Puja. Nice pictures.

  6. Great pictures!!Thanks for reminding the wonderful time everyone spends during that time of the year

  7. oyibougbo

    Lovely and amazing.. I love it when people celebrate their culture and traditions with pride. Awesome pictures.

  8. Anita

    Beautiful pictures and very descriptive. Never having been I got lost with some of the terms what is a pandal?

    1. ansh997x

      Pandal is the makeshift structure under which the festival is conducted.

  9. Paresh Godhwani

    In this part of the world we celebrate navratri with garba but Durga puja has always excited me. Thanks for sharing the pics showing the culture and rituals of Durga puja.

  10. bohemiannation

    These photos are absolutely amazing!! I loved reading this and it sounds incredible… food, friends, celebration, traditions. So beautiful!

  11. swikriti

    though i haven’t got the chance to visit kolkata during Durga puja festival but through this post i got the chance to see the traditions and happiness of peoples.Pictures are so amazing..that i am looking it again and again scrolling up and down to make sure i have not missed any..very well written.

  12. Mane

    The photos are lovely!! I want to go and visit Kolkata during puja festival. Thanks for bringing me there through your colorful and amazing photos!

  13. royaljewellersonlinegmailcom

    This was very nice.
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    keep up the good work.