It is that time of the year again. Of Devi puja, and bombe habba. Of Garbha and Sindhoor Khela. Of celebration and food.
I was a 11-year-old in the steel city of Vizag when I first experienced Durga Puja celebrated the Bengali way. For a Kannada / Tamizh speaking girl used to dolls being arranged in homes during Navaratri (and being prodded in the back to sing a carnatic song while visiting others’ homes for Golu), the community celebration of Durga Puja was a revelation.
During the next few years of my stay there, my friends and I learnt to dance to Rabindra Sangeet and enact plays for the five days of celebrations that saw people from the township gathering together faithfully each year. It was during Pujo that I had my first bhog (community eating) – it was amazing to see so many of us being fed together at the same time—outside of a wedding, of course.
Cut to the 21st century. Place – Bengaluru. The IT Capital of India and the home of over 1 crore people – people from different parts of the country, and the world.
When the city is a melting pot of cultures, it is but natural that festivals too are celebrated in the manner in which they were exposed to while growing up. Bengaluru therefore has its share of Bombe habba, Dandiya nights, and Pujo.
“Missing home” is what made Kolkata born Madhuchanda Ghosh look for a Bengali association in her neighbourhood which celebrated Pujo like it used to be done back home. Having moved to Bengaluru because her husband got a job here, Madhu joined the Anandadhara association in J P Nagar a couple of years ago.
The association has members from as far as Electronic city too. For her and many others like her, it is a time for people from different parts of the city to get together and catch up with the latest happenings while also enjoying themselves.
Madhu is the event coordinator for the festival this year and is proud of the fact that the pandal this year was decorated completely by members of the association with very little external help. This is generally the case with some other pujo pandals too where decorating it is also a part of the festivities.
For Madhu, and most Bengalis world over, Durga Pujo / Pujo is a time to celebrate the coming over of Uma Devi to her maternal home. Celebrations are through various means including music, dance, theater, and food :-). After all, when a married daughter comes to her maika / tavarooru (mother’s house), the family members there get together and have fun.
While fun is important, the religious aspect is not discounted and rituals are carefully carried out on each of the five days of the Devi’s stay.
Right from bodhon (inauguration of the puja) ghat sthapana (Kalash), Kola Bou Snan (on Sapthami – a part of celebrating the wedding of Ganesha to a Banana tree – according to some, it could be considered a way of worshiping nature too), Vishnu Smaran, Ganga Pranam (prayer to river Ganga), Pushpanjali, Gayatri Jap, Nabapatrika (on Saptami), Ashtami puja, Sandhi puja (the time when Devi Durga killed Mahishasura – the period between Ashtami and Navami tithi – 24 minutes of Puja – Devi is worshiped as Chamunda), Chandi Path, lighting of 108 lamps, homa, Bhog, Navami puja, Havan, Kumari Puja (9 or 11 young girls, usually less than 8 or 9 years of age are worshipped), offering Fish to Durga Maa on Navami, Dadhi karma on Dashami—offering a sweet dish made of Mishti Dohi, poha, sandesh, and Ghee, Devi Boron (offering Sandesh to the Goddess and praying to her using two beatel leaves), Sindhoor Khela (on Dashami) and finally visarjan (seeing off the divine mother), all rituals are faithfully carried out. Often accompanied by the beat of the Dhak and the resounding vibrations from the conch.
Shilpi Sinha Roy, a PG student in Bengaluru’s Mount Carmel College, who is from Kolkata, explains the tradition: “On Ashtami day, all women wear the traditional saree while men wear Kurta and Dhoti. On this day, puja is the longest. 770 verses about the ‘frightful’ aspect of Durga Maa is generally chanted on this day.”
Shilpi adds: “For a Bengali, Durga Puja means the best 10-15 days of the year. From the day of Mahalaya, till immersion of Durga idol, none of the students study, none of the officials go for work, till Dashera, everything except the hospital will be closed. No work, only enjoyment… immense happiness of hanging out with friends and siblings, eating whatever we want, which would be usually restricted during the rest of the year.”
Bengaluru has many Durga Puja Pandals this year across the city – be it in Jalahalli, Whitefield, Electronic City, HAL, Koramangala or J P Nagar. Bengalis in Bengaluru are ensuring that a part of their tradition is kept alive in the city they have made their home in. A list of some of the pandals with addresses are mentioned below.
Durga Pujo and ecofriendliness
With the ever increasing number of Durga Pandals in the city, there is increase of another not so favourable aspect to – garbage.
These five days of Pujo sees many people at the Pandal through the day, and especially during Bhog or special occasions like Anjali or Sandhi Puja, or the various cultural events that take place during the evenings usually.
Multiple food stalls and stalls selling clothes, jewellry, and other items are increasingly becoming common in many of the pandals.
All this automatically results in a lot of waste being generated on a daily basis—in the form of plastic bottles and covers, plastic cutlery, paper cups and tissues, and leftover food. Not to mention thermocol and packaging material which are not biodegradable.
While some pandals do not focus on the kind of garbage that can be generated at the venues, there are a few associations that are consciously attempting to go green or reduce non-biodegradable garbage.
“Save Tree, Save Environment” is the theme for Pujo being organised by the Jagriti Bangiya Cultural Association (JBCA) this year.
According to their General Secretary, Swadesh Ranjan Das, this year’s idol is focused on environment. The mother Durga fights Mahishasura who is attempting to cut down trees for urban development or to meet his own selfish ends. In this interpretation, Devi Durga, who also symbolises mother Earth, comes to the rescue of mankind from the menace of environmental danger. 200 saplings are also being distributed among visitors to encourage them to plant trees in the surrounding areas.
The Whitefield Cultural Association (WCA) organises WCA Durga Puja at Whitefield. HAving many members from Whitefield Rising group, WCA has made a conscious decision to go green and have an eco-friendly puja this year. This has been communicated to their members too through various means of communication.
According to Aniruddha Bhattacharya, the person in-charge of overall governance with respect to the Puja, members of the team have been carrying out daily frequent checks of materials being used at the stalls too. Food stalls which use non-biodegradable cutlery have been requested to use bio-friendly cutlery instead.
Hopefully, more pandals will follow similar practices in the coming years.
What is heartening to note is that non-Bengalis too are increasingly participating in the Pujo being held in the ever expanding metropolis that Bengaluru is.
I sign off with the hope that not only will be this festival a wonderful time for believers but it will also build a bond of friendship among people from diverse backgrounds.
Some of the Durga Pandals in Bengaluru:
KSUC Durga Puja 2017 Siri Convention Hall (Kodichikkanahalli Utsab Committee)
No 4, 60 Feet Rd, Shanbhog Nagappa Layout, Bilekahalli, Bangalore
BinB Durgotsav 2017 (Bengali in Bangalore)
AICOBOO Ground, Behind A2B, near Udupi Garden Signal, BTM I Stage, Bengaluru
Durga Puja (ECCA – Electronic City Cultural Association)
White Feather, Electronic City, Bengaluru
HAL / New Thippasandra
Socio Cultural Association Durga Pooja 2017
Sishu Griha Montessori and High School, No. 3, HAL 3rd Stage, New Thippasandra
Hebbal Durgotsav 2017 (Oikotan – Hebbal Bengali Cultural Society)
Beside Green Country Public School, Hebbal
9731722992, 9000763972, 9845964140 http://oikotandurgapuja.com/
Barsha Durga Puja (BARSHA – Bengali Association HSR Layout, Bangalore)
2017 503, 15th Cross Road, Sector 4, HSR Layout, Bengaluru http://www.barshabangalore.com/
Hulimavu Begur Road
Durga Puja 2017 (Srishti Cultural Association)
DLF Westend Heights, Akshayanagar, Hulimavu Begur Road, Bangalore 560068 https://www.facebook.com/events/1449331401770443/
J P Nagar
Amader Pujo 2017 (Bengali Association)
ELAAN Convention Center, JP Nagar Kanakapura Road https://www.facebook.com/events/127021727915843/
Durga Puja Bangalore 2017 (Bangalore e Bengali Adda – বেঙ্গালোরে বাঙালি আড্ডা)
143, East End A Main Road, JP Nagar 3rd Phase, Bengaluru 560078
Durgoutsav 2017 (Utsav Bangalore)
Sree Kala Mantap, #70, 15th Cross, Phase III, J P Nagar, Bengaluru 560078 https://www.facebook.com/UtsavBangalore/
Durga Puja (Anandadhara Bangalore)
JP Nagar Cultural & Welfare Association, opp. 24th Main Hotel, near RV Dental College, JP Nagar 1st Phase, Bengaluru
Contact info: 99806 76610
SBCA – Durga Puja 2017 (South Bangalore Cultural Association)
NGR Kalyan Mantapa, 6/B Sarakki Industrial Area, Bannerghatta Main Road, JP Nagar 3rd Phase, Near Mandovi Motors, Bangalore https://www.facebook.com/events/2321450064747797/
Sri Sri Sarbojanin Durga Puja (Bengaluru Bangiyo Parishad, Bengaluru – N)
HMT ground. Opposite Nilgiris store. Near Jalahalli police station, Bengaluru
Contact: 091953 50897 / 9535089764
Jayamahal Durgotsav 2017 (Jayamahal Sarbajanin Durga Charitable Samiti)
Jayamahal Park Ground, 127, 4th Main Rd, Jayamahal Extension, Jayamahal
Sarbojanin Durga Puja – 2017 (Kaggadasapura Bengali Association)
L R International School Ground (next to SCT IT College), Vignan Nagar, Kaggadasapurua, Bengaluru
Sree Sree Durga Pooja and Dasera 2017 (Sarathi Socio-Cultural Trust, Bangalore)
Mangala Kalyana Mantapa, Ganapathi Temple Road, Koramangala 7th Block, Bengaluru https://www.facebook.com/events/1966882760255853/
Nagavara / Manyata Tech Park
Shri Shri Durga Puja 2017 (The Bengalee Association, Bangalore)
Manpho Convention Centre, No. 90, Veeranna Palya, Nagawara Ring Road, Near Manyata Tech Park, Outer Ring Road, Bangalore.
R T Nagar
11th Year Durga Puja (R T Nagar Sarbajanin Durga Puja Samiti)
Patel’s Inn, Next to Sriram White House Complex, R T NAgar PO, Bangalore – 560032
Sharodiya Pujo 2017 (Bangalore Kali Bari)
Hindu Sadara Kshemabhivrudhi Sangha, Rajaji Nagar 4th A Main Rd, West of Chord Road 2nd Stage, Nagapura, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560086
Durgoutsav 2017 (Sanjaynagar Bengali Association)
Sastry Memorial Hall, 6th Main, 4th Cross, Postal Employees Colony, Sanjaynagar, Bengaluru – 560094
SORRBA Durgotsab 2017 (Sarjapur Outer Ring Road Bengali Association (SORRBA))
BBMP Grounds, Doddakannelli, Sarjapur road, Bengaluru https://www.facebook.com/events/1257072714398077/
Ramkrishna Math, Swami vivekananda road, Ulsoor, Bengaluru
WCA Durga Puja (Whitefield Cultural Association)
Inner Circle Playground, Whitefield, Bengaluru
Durga Puja 2017 (Bangalore Platinum Bengali)
Platinum City, Yeshwanthpur, Bengaluru
There are a few more. Jalahalli Cross near Ayyappa temple. West Jalahalli airforce training compound, East Jalahalli airforce compound, Sahakarnagar Durga Puja, Ramakrishna Mission compound in Sanjaynagar.