Shwetha Satyanarayan, Bangalore, Oct 11, 2013, DHNS: 21:21 IST
Durga Puja is being celebrated in the City with religious fervour and gaiety. Different communities have put up pandals and the puja, cultural events and food stalls are attracting Bangaloreans in droves to them.
People from across the City, irrespective of the community, are making a beeline to catch a glimpse of the Durga idol. Metrolife visited some of the pandals to feel the festive atmosphere.
As Himadri Nandi of Jayamahal Durga Puja Association notes, “80 per cent of the footfall to our pandal is from non-Bengalis. The pandal, which is colourfully put up in a field, stands out from other pandals as the idol is kept on an elevated area. This year, the pandal is based on the theme ‘Evolution of Bengali Cuisine’.”
Tapan Datta, one of the organisers, says, “Based on our theme, we conduct research on some of the oldest recipes that are almost forgotten in today’s time and try to recreate the same taste.” At this pandal, a pavilion, with details of Bengali dishes and restaurants in the old days, has been put up for the visitors.
Sudha Rai, a Tamilian and a resident of Jayamahal, says, “I have been coming here for the last three years. I enjoy the dunuchi and dholki dance competitions the most. We never get to see such rich celebrations during our festival. Everything is so colourful — like the idol of the goddess and even the stalls.”
Not just locals, foreigners too are coming to see the festivities. Ann, an expat from France, clad in a red sari and bangles, was happy to be one among her local friends. She says, “I have been in India
for the last two years and this is my first time at a pandal. The way the Bengali women are dressed up is very interesting. I think from now on, I should consider wearing a sari everyday!”
Another major attraction at some of the pandals is the Muktaangan, a platform for amateur artistes to showcase their talent. People who haven’t make it big, perform in an open area in front of thousands of people.
The Durga Puja pandal in RBANMS Grounds is one of the oldest in the City. Organised by The Bengali Association, more than three lakh people visit the pandal during the five days.
Anirban Mukherjee, a visitor, had come all the way from Belandur to be part of the event on the first day. He says, “This is the only time we get to meet people from older generation as everyone gathers here. I don’t stick to just one pandal. My family and I keep hopping from one to another so that we get to see all sorts of programmes. Each pandal is different in terms of the events they hold.”
In Koramangala, the pandal by Sarathi Cultural Association is more contemporary in terms of the crowd and the stalls. With many popular restaurants putting up their stalls here, visitors can feast their tastebuds with Hyderabadi biryani, fish fry and rice or even cutlets and rolls.
Amay, a visitor, says, “The best part about their celebrations is the food. We are not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food during our festivals but for them, even fish is like vegetarian food. The sweets are another delight. So for me, the next couple of days is all about food, fun and more food.”
In another pandal by Kolaj Association in Kormangala, it’s all about cultural activities. Children were seen reciting devotional songs and performing a bharatanatyam dance. Biswapratim Paul, the organiser, says, “Many non-Bengalis are performing in the event as this is a festival for everyone. It does not have to be restricted to only our cultural programmes. We will have our programmes like theatre, music and dance competitions in the next few days.”
So for Bangaloreans without any plans for the weekend, the Durga Puja celebrations give a variety of options like plays, singing competitions, traditional folk songs and dance performances along with some authentic Bengali food.