Today is Navami of Durgapuja, last day for Durgapuja before Dasami , the day of Visarjan. In Mumbai Durga Puja is celebrated for four days—that is Saptami, astami, Navami and dasami as usual, unlike in Kolkata which is being celebrated right from the day dwitia this year.
But being a Bengali, puja is in the blood. Whoever you are, wherever you are, Durga puja will draw you out from your closet, even if you are a recluse. I responded to a call to do puja hopping by our family friends—Mangal choudhuri, Devashish Saha. These two friends are tremendously energetic and full of ideas, I was just happy to join them. Being in Mumbai for last 30 years, they are not less than any Mumbaikar, mastered the local language Marathi.
We –full group, started out at 12.00 in the noon. First visited Chembur. Here image of Goddess Durga is beautiful. A large area is demarcated for Durga puja. A series of stalls are set at one side , some were advertising goods made by big business houses, some were selling their own products, some were from service oriented companies. When we reached there pushpanjali was going on, a huge crowd gathered in front of the image , to offer pushpanjali. We could not join in the pushpanjali, as we had to move other pandals.
Then we, the whole group, reached Vasi. The Marquee where Devi is housed, is a big and impressive one. Organisers appeared to consist of very influensive people, spent a huge sum of money on arranging the whole show. It is really a grand show. For Bengalees, it is just not an occasion for worshipping the demon killer, Durga; it is also a celebration of their culture where all sides of life come up for celebration. Spends all their money on buying garments, decorating home, buying foods etc. Here there was an arrangement of community feeding. Anybody who were present on the site of puja served food. We also ate the food given to us. It was quite tasty.
Next, we moved through several places like Airoli, Mulund, Juhu, Lokhandawala, Ramkrishna Mission. Every place we saw Durga pratima, many not less than excellent piece of work. Pratima of Biswaji—an old day filmstar, and Abhijit—a famous singer, are excellent.
We returned from puja hopping at one in the night with a new experience. Thanks to Mangal choudhuri, and Devashish for arranging the puja parikrama.