It's that time of the year when everyone starves themselves in the morning in order to make space for the delicious home-made bhog in the afternoon and then binge on the different cuisines in the evening. Durga Puja is here and how!
Now, with the Commonwealth Games behind us, the time is right to enjoy one of the biggest and most widely celebrated festivals of the country. As the puja fervour increases day by day, we bring you three of the must-visit pujas.
Mela Ground, Chitranjan Park
In Delhi, Durga Puja = Chitranjan Park, aka CR Park, (the Bengali capital of the city). CR Park itself has at least five-six pandals of which the Mela Ground and the Cooperative Ground are the biggest and most prominent Puja hubs.
Both these grounds are filled with at least a thousand people at any given point of time.
"I have grown up here and when Puja begins, we are here at the ground most of the day. In fact, we only go back home to sleep," says Shankar Majumdar who has been coming to the Mela Ground Puja for 30 years.
"This is one of the older and more popular puja pandals and we have a lot of childhood memories with the place," says Meenakshi Majumdar, who feels there is something for everyone at the Puja.
Voluntary payment for passes
One of the biggest pujas
Bhog: Labra (mixed vegetables) and Khichdi
Cultural programmes at night
Eatery and handicrafts stalls
E Block, Greater Kailash II
Located in one of the upmarket areas of the city, this Puja mandal was set up about 16 years ago when a couple of families got together to give the personal touch. The pandal receives a turnout of about two-three thousand per day. "Our own family members serve the food to everyone and ensure that no one goes empty stomach," says Adit Sanyal, one of the organizers of the event.
Warmth and a personal touch that make you feel like you're in Kolkata itself
Home made healthier food, with low chances of side-effects and acidity
The oldest puja pandal in the city, Kashmere Gate is celebrating its 101st anniversary this year. The pandal itself is spacious and has already had about 80,000 visitors. Serving the simple but tasty bhog, khichdi, labra and several stalls like korma and kebabs, this pandal is high on the 'yum' factor. Preeta Chaudhari and Aparajita Dasmunshi, who were newcomers to the puja this year came here because of the hype and believed the pandal lived up to it.
Oldest puja pandal
Spacious and well-ventilated
Good and authetic cuisines including Korma, Biryani, Kathi rolls
So, whichever Puja pandal you may choose, make sure you taste the spirit of this festival.
1. Firstly, if you're a non-Bengali, try pronouncing Puja as Poojo and see how its warms them up.
2. If you're a non-resident, try to persuade some residents to give you passes and if you're unsuccessful, then go and stand in the queues well in advance, preferably keep some to give you company and take turns with.
3. Make sure you explore all the stalls as everything from food and clothes to even cars are available here.