Abhirup Basu never get up before 10 am. On Friday, the 20-year student was up in the wee hours to make it to Durga Puja’s first round of anjali (offering made to the goddess).
He could barely keep up with the verses chanted by the priest, but that did not take away any of the puja spirit for him. Mohashoptomi (or the seventh day) saw the scores of Bengalis in the city actually getting into the thick of things.
Goddess Durga, believed to have arrived on Shoptomi in her traditional rath (chariot), was greeted with ulodhuni (holy smoke) which is a ritual performed mostly by women.
CR Park, the most happening place in the city during puja, saw hordes of people lining up to participate in the morning prayers.
“Ulodhuni and anjali is an integral part of the puja. Although the protima (idol) arrives a day or two before, it is only on shoptomi that we begin the rituals,” said Utpal Ghosh, President of Navapalli Puja Samiti, CR Park.
Anjali took place in rounds and went on till early afternoon, which was followed by bhog (holy meal) distribution.
A sizeable crowd had gathered at the Kashmere Gate Puja, which is celebrating its 100th year, for the holy meal.
“One has to give anjali in an empty stomach. Apart from the religious significance (food is first offered to the goddess), it is an integral part of a worshippers’ itinerary,” said Keshto Ganguly, a devotee.
The Kashmere Gate puja has followed all the traditions since its inception in 1910.
“Even though the puja here has seen many turmoils (in the past century), including the partition, it has never skipped a year,” said Dipayan Mazumdar, vice president, Delhi Durga Puja Samiti that organizes the puja here.
By evening, the festive atmosphere had gripped pandals and worshippers alike, in the city. The evening arti and nobo potrika (a ritual in which branches from nine trees are bound to dress the goddess), marked off Shoptomi, a day that promised of much more in the coming days of the puja.