Every year, as soon as the month of September / October arrives, it brings with it inevitable charm and joy that spreads fast through the minds of millions of Bengalis worldwide. Hearts dance to the rhythm of “Dhak” (Drum) and a feeling of blissful excitement runs through blood with a euphoric sense of “Maa Aschhen!” (Mother is Arriving!) Though Durga Puja is the biggest celebration of Bengalis and celebrated enormously in West Bengal and in Bangladesh, but over the decades it has crossed the geographical borders of Bengal and reached to the remote corners in the world. Actually wherever there is a presence of as little as ten to fifteen Bengalis, a Durga Puja has come up with passion and essence of festivities.
J.P. Nagar South Bangalore Association - 2010
Ulsoor Bengali Association Puja - 2010
Go anywhere in India and you will eventually meet up with at least a few Bengalis. And if you talk about big towns and cities, be assured that you can find from a few thousands to lakhs of them. Be it Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhopal or any other city, you will find the Bengalis celebrating “Durgotsav” during puja time, with same elan and enthusiasm that can be found in Bengal. The “garden city” of India, Bangalore, is no different! The city is inhabited by about a few lakhs of Bengalis and currently around forty Durga Pujas are celebrated across the city. I am one of those who spent eight long years in this city for professional responsibilities and never realized when I also became a part of cultures and traditions of the city, with maintaining a true “Bangaliyana” (Bengalee-ness). As far as different pujas are concerned in the city, these are spread from north to south and from east to west parts of Bangalore. Some of the famous community Durga pujas in Bangalore are: Ulsoor Bengali Association, J.P. Nagar South Bangalore Puja, K.R. Puram SEA College, Koramangala 6th Block puja, R.T. Nagar Sarbajanin Durga Puja Samiti, Marathalli Puja committee etc. Some of the pujas can even compete with famous pujas in Kolkata, in terms of their budget and sheer size of arrangement. Cultural events such as dancing, singing, drama, theatre, kids’ special programme are held every evening. Not to forget, some of the Pujas who are more crowd-pullers in the lot are famous for inviting popular Bengali Bands like ParashPathar, Lokkhichhara, Bhoomi, Cactus etc, apart from bringing in star singers and vocal artists to perform every evening. And yes! The community feasts throughout all the four days of Puja, with indulgement for classic Bengali food in sumptuous lunch and dinners.
In my personal opinion, one of the best Durga Pujas organized in Bangalore is by “Indiranagar Cambridge Layout association”. The pandal is generally put up at a large ground near 80 Feet road at Indiranagar. A “Mela” is held every year containing inevitable stalls of famed Bengali catering houses and eateries, small scales food sellers and book publication agencies. On Saptami and Ashtami, the “Aarti session” and “Dhunuchi Naach competition” accompanying 4-5 dhaakis (Drum beaters) draw large crowd from various parts of the city. Another big subject of attention is the “Dandiyaa dancing session” on Nabami, marking the Navratri festival. Homely and traditional puja rituals, decorated pandals, serene idol, bhog distribution, cultural evenings – everything combine into a splendid five-days extravaganza loaded with Bangaliyana, which speaks of dedicated involvement, focused effort, and generous contributions from all visitors and Puja committee members. Dashami ends with usual and familiar scene of “Sindur Khela” and “Bisarjan” at Ulsoor Lake or in other big tanks of the city.
Durga Puja gives us, the people in other cities of India, a pain of “being apart from homeland” every year in autumn. But alongside the celebration provides a sense of “being in a home away from home” and a reason to rejoice once in a year amidst joy, cheerfulness and a proud feeling of being a Bengali.
Dhunuchi Naach Session at Indiranagar Cambridge Layout puja - 2010
After Aarti Durga Puja - 2010