Pujo in the City

By Alankrita Anand (PR Co-ordinator)



It’s that time of the year when we celebrate the Goddess of power and victory, when the faithful fast and when the entire country comes alive with festivities, be it Durga Puja or Navratri or Vijayadashmi. Now before the ten-day festival draws to a close (only to pave way for more festivals), let me take you to Delhi’s mini Bengal. Yes, even you Calcuttans are welcome.

Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park, better known as CR Park, is predominantly a Bengali locality – one complete with a fish market selling the popular Bengali delicacy- the Ilish Maach or the Hilsa. Needless to say, it is the most happening place during the Pujas, let’s go Bong- Pujo. On the first of the ten days, in the wee hours of the morning, the Goddess is evoked through prayers and chants- Mahalaya – which marks the beginning of pujo. For those of you who missed the 4a.m. airing of Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s ‘Mahisashurmardini’ (slayer of the buffalo-demon) on All India Radio, you need not wait for the goddess to return next year – all you need to do is look the hymn up on the internet! (Here’s an interesting piece on how even our gods have more than embraced technology- http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111002/jsp/graphiti/story_14577083.jsp)

As popular Bollywood culture may have taught you, Durgaashtmi (the eighth day) is when the hustle-bustle is at its highest. So, we arrive at CR Park and wonder where the pandals are and soon enough, we realize that it’s nothing to wonder about. Let the pretty lights guide, just like the westward leading star did the three kings of Orient, and you will undoubtedly reach a pandal! Once there, we make our way through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the Goddess. Resplendent in hues of crimson and gold, flanked by her ‘children’ on either side; she looks ahead, her eyes sharp, her many arms steady, their weapons shining- poised.

Behold, she is the goddess of power.

You’d expect the faithful to bow in humble adoration and pray and make offerings that she may protect them from evil. But lo! The pious bow for a second and observe a moment of quiet and then, ta-da- get ‘em cameras out! Everybody loves a charming goddess! As I said, it is not a plain puja of sorts – it is a festival, it is a celebration. Never in the year but now do people doll up in new clothes for five days straight, never do they indulge in so many gol-guppas and jalebis as now. Never is the evening aarti enjoyed with such fervour, never does such essence of Bengal waft into our cosmopolitan city. It’s more than a pleasure to be a part of such celebration.
But now, let us move out of the pandal,onto the brightly lit road, with vendors of all sorts selling the widest collection of a child’s best friends- balloons and whistles and toys and tops. There are food vendors too. We all look, we all enjoy. Here’s what we overlook- a good number of these vendors are young boys and girls,
no older than twelve. Let me offer an easy explanation for  ignoring this fact – it’s evening, it’s not school-time and so, why can’t they give their parents a helping hand? But what about the rag-dressed girl just across the road, her goddess is not inside that pandal. She sees her goddess in every passer-by or at least, that is what she hopes to do. It’s again a story of ‘them’ and ‘us’. The heavily jeweled pujo revelers on one hand and a park world with no goddess on the other, both in the same space, yet there for different purposes.


On a concluding note, my heartiest pujo greetings to Ms. Banerjee. But dear Miss, do your government servants really need a ten day long vacation? I don’t know if they deserve one or not but what I do know is that a dying patient does not deserve to be denied medical care on account of a government ‘chhuti’. And this I say only as a concerned citizen, not a Maoist, neither a communist.


Happy Dusshera!


One Response to Pujo in the City

  1. Nice trip to the BANGAL within Delhi.were ROSOGULLAS also available?
    In fact every town away from Bengal has a locality populated by bengalis and the story is the same everywhere.-isin’t it Durgabari?
    apart from the festivity such occasions also help to keep the cultural bonding alive.

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