It was few days ago, I woke up hearing Mahisasur Pala to welcome the celebrations on Mahalaya. It’s Dashami already, while goddess Durga is being given a grand farewell, we could only look back the last few days and say, “আসছে বছর আবার হবে”. The wait for another has just begun.
Having stayed in Hyderabad for last 18 years, I have seen Durga Puja celebrations growing with each year. Every year, the number of non-resident (প্রবাসী) bengalis are also increasing. This year along with 3 other bloggers from different cities in India, we decided to celebrate #bloggersdurgapujo through various blog posts in the last 6 days and make it a year to remember.
Kuheli who is a proud mother shared her lessons learnt from Durga Puja as a prabashi kid on Chaturthi. However, being a foodie herself, she made sure that we don’t miss out on the essence of Durga Pujo bhog on Maha Ashtami.
While we all love cooking, my friend Shamik shared his foodie treat recipe of Alur Dum on Saptami to relish your niramish bhog.
My earlier blog on Sashti spoke about getting prepared for Durga Puja for non-resident bengalis, I will take your around India & beyond to see how the biggest Indian festival is celebrated.
In India, the types of pandals are divided into two broad categories, Barowari and household festival organised privately. The first barowari celebration dates back to 1790 when 12 Brahmin friends decided to institute the first community puja. Most of the celebration which are organised by non-resident bengalis are Sarbojanin (open to everyone) to attract more crowds.
Puja’s outside Bengal are distinguished by the way they are celebrated. Though it is difficult to categorize, I observed that main puja are observed by bengali associations in various parts of the city. Then there are puja which are observed in temples like Durgabari, Kalibari, Hindu Temple, etc. Cities which have sizeable bengali families in defence colonies conduct their own Durga Puja. Recently, I have also observed that bengalis in big gated communities have started observing their own celebrations to cut down travel to pandals set up in far distances. This also allows many families having kids also to enjoy the celebrations which otherwise gets difficult.
The city of Nizam gets colourful with Navratri, Bathukamma and Durga Puja all celebrated with equal fervour and grandeur. The bengali population has crossed 8 lakhs and counting, the best part of Hyderabad is there is no specific ‘bengali para’, every locality has bengalis dwelling. The growing number could only mean more pandals to be setup around the city. While Utsab Cultural Association kept upgrading to bigger venues in the last 5 years, Cyberabad Bangali Association celebrated their 10th year celebrations in a bigger & improved venue. The biggest celebrations in Hyderabad which takes the limelight are undoubtedly, Hyderabad Bangalee Samity in its 76th Year in Domalguda, Bangiya Sanskritik Sangha celebrating its 52nd Year, third closest comes the Bengalee Cultural Association in it’s 45th Year, followed by Hyderabad Kalibari in Sainikpuri performing 32nd Year & Hyderabad Bengali Welfare Association making it to the 26th Year in Charminar stands out from the rest of the puja pandals in Hyderabad. Though not exhaustive, here is the list of some of the celebrations in and around the city of Pearls. Here is a quick glimpse of the celebrations in Hyderabad.
The rituals and customs are performed with equal devotion and more than 8 lakhs & growing non-resident bengalis make them their home for the 5 days. Eating bhog, giving pushpanjali, bonding with family, connecting with friends, pandal hopping, eating food in food stalls, nothing is missed out by anyone. They also dress up their best to impress each other.
The Durga Puja committees put in every effort possible to make sure the to put up a great show and their sincere efforts only make these days worth a wait for every non-resident bengalis. Please vote for Nizam city Hyderabad’s best Durga Puja celebrations in the bongfoOodie Sharad Shamman 2017.
The Bengali Association Coimbatore represents the aspirations of the Probashi Bengalis by hosting the 5 day festival in the heart of the city. The only bengali Durga Puja in the southern town of Tamil Nadu has already reached 15 years.
Shared by Angshuman Dey
Delhi can boast to transform into a mini bengal during Durga Puja. The number of celebrations around the state can only be a cherry on the top for the non-resident bengalis dwelling in and around. The oldest Durga Puja at Kashmere Gate has already reached 108th year celebration.
Earlier, all the immersions (বিসর্জন) used to take place in the same ghat but with time and scale the proportions have changed and the immersion now takes place in various other locations. Information shared by Ranjita Choudhury
Pujas in Shillong might not be as grand as the ones in Kolkata but there’s no comparison to the spirit that Shillongites carry on the four glorious Puja days.
Few highlights of the celebrations are an inter city drum beat competition (dhak competition) that’s held on Navami. With 64 Puja being held in Shillong, the scotland of east has a long history of public Durga Puja celebrations – the first sarbojanin Durga Puja in Shillong goes back 121 years. Information shared by Sharmistha Deb.
Though in close proximity with Delhi, the Durga Puja celebrations in Gurgaon are also varied. Nilanjana Ghosh says, “On Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami we distribute lunch (bhog) to everyone who comes to our pandal. There is no coupon system”. Here is a look at some of the best pandals in Gurgaon.
However, the pujo from DLF5 is special in it’s own sense. Pritha Sen says, “Our pujo is an all-woman one with help from a handful of men . We are just into our 4th year with the vision of inclusion and harmony. The first unique feature is that it is inclusive of everyone — Bengalis and those who are not. The second and very important feature is that there are no caste restrictions imposed here. The mool bhog or the actual bhog that is offered to the goddess on the 4 days, traditionally supposed to be cooked by a Brahmin, twice a day during arati is cooked by different community members each day, and anyone (even non-bengalis), whatever caste can volunteer including men. The community bhog is also cooked by a community member with help from a kitchen provided by DLF. Each day we have anywhere between 400-800 people eating bhog. And it is steadily growing. On each day we have cultural programmes by the community, children, as is the norm and celebrity artistes from Bengal but on Navami, with north India celebrating Navratri we have the burning of Ravana through a laser show and dandiya where everybody participates.”
While there are other cities in India like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai which currently has prabashi bengalis more than smaller towns in the country and Durga Puja is celebrated in a bigger scale bollywood & tollywood participating in them. Check out how singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya’s Lokhandwala Durga Puja has been enthralling the Mumbaikars.
Taking my flight outside India, I observed that there is no dearth of Durga Puja celebrations be it East or West, North or South of the globe. However, due to convenience of people the days of celebrations are curtailed and adjusted accordingly. Leave alone bengalis, the non-bengalis & the local people of the respective countries also join hands to make these few days memorable. Based on inputs from my friends, I have tried to highlight some of them for you.
Singapore knows how to celebrate it’s Durga Puja. The bengalis here staying for ages and making Durga Puja a grand affair. From small ‘barir pujo’ to ‘Sarbojonin Durgotsav’, the island town is truly taking India everywhere.
Picture Courtesy – Mousumi Rao
Please find The list of Durga Puja pandals in Singapore here.
Who would have imagined that a beautiful city in Switzerland would host a more beautiful festival is such grandeur. There are a couple of them which are celebrated across the city but the largest is hosted by Swiss Pooja committee. A gathering of 400 people including non-bengalis. The only other puja hosted by Milan Sangha has fibre idol from Kolkata which is assembled at the venue. Interesting fact of the pujo is that they have Sri Lankan brahmin priest. Globalisation in true sense!!! Information shared by Anuradha Bose
Australia is a huge country divided in various province. It might be interesting to note that Durga Puja celebrations are organised in different parts of the province on different days. Unlike in India, the celebrations spread across 2-3 weeks with most of the organisations celebrating only on weekends to accommodate more non-resident bengalis. Information shared by Anindita Roy Chowdhury
In Dubai the festival is celebrated by expats from India and Bangladesh involves rituals, food and music during Durga Puja. Whilst only one is a Sarbajanin puja, there are other 2 which are restricted to members only. The neighbouring city of Abu Dhabi hosts another one. There is no dearth of adherence to the customs and rituals which are integral part of these puja. They believe the festival symbolises socio-cultural integration. Information shared by Sujoy Bhattacharya.
The only Durga Puja is organised by the Bengali Association of Uganda. Arunabh Dey who have been stranded in the African country due to work shares, “Life surprises you when you expect the least. Bengali Association Uganda or BAU has been one such pleasant surprise to me. The magnanimous, to say the least, all round arrangement has catapulted me home in seconds as soon as I stepped into the Durga Puja venue. Mahotsav in its true sense with a footfall of over 600 people everyday, evenings graced by cultural programs and then like how food is synonymous with every Bengali celebration, a grand spread of Mahaprasad. Words and pictures would fail to express the experience of being a part of it. My heartfelt thanks to BAU.”
“Religion for individual, celebration for all”, believes the Bengali cultural association in Brussels, Belgium. Colorful celebrations are held in this medieval town of Belgium. Artists from India and Europe perform during the week long celebrations along with cultural programs to keep everyone engaged. They also serve lip smacking bhog to everyone attending the puja.
Though there are few Durga Puja which is celebrated in Denmark, these two are a little different from the rest. The one on left has Bangladeshi style of customs being followed for the Puja. On the right, the preparations and arrangements are done by all ladies. Women power, I must say…!!!. Information shared by Ananya Mukherjee.
The Scottish capital’s only Durga Puja is hosted by SABASH (Scottish Association of Bengal Art and Cultural Heritage) community. The only other nearest puja is hosted in Glasgow. Here is an article on the history about SABASH and Edinburgh Durgotsav. Information shared by Gargi Ganguly.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The US of A is the only country after India where Durga Puja is celebrated across the regions. East to West, every city you can probably find atleast one (if not more) Durga Puja being celebrated. The big ticket puja makes preparations way ahead getting star performers from India to make it as livelier as possible. Here is a little history of how Durga Puja travelled across the seas.
While the celebrations might not be limited to only these countries, there are many which goes unnoticed. Here is an overview of the world Durga Puja 2017 celebrations plotted on a World Map.
If you are missing Kolkata Durga puja, here is a small parikrama of the puja pandals from the City of Joy shared by Prosenjit Mondal, Novojit Banerjee & Pritha Dhara.
Thank you for taking your time to go through the post. It will be great if you can leave a comment and let us know how you enjoyed your Durga Puja and if you belong to anywhere beyond these places, don’t forget to share it with us, we would like to show it to the all our followers. If you like this post, don’t forget to follow my blog.