The drums playing at Delhi's Durga Puja pandals rose to a crescendo on Monday as thousands spilled onto the streets to celebrate Maha Ashtami.
While huge crowds poured into Chittaranjan Park, the Bengali hub of the city, leading to nightmarish experiences for motorists, many others went to vintage venues such as Delhi Durga Puja Charitable & Cultural Samiti at Kashmere Gate to experience the Puja fever.
At CR Park, which looked liked the City of Joy crammed into a couple of square kilometres, thousands of Bengalis came to bow before deities and get a taste of festivities back home.
"I've been living in Delhi for 20 years. Those years I'm not able to go home, I come here with family and friends," Animesh Kumar Biswas, an employee of a private firm and a resident of Badarpur, said.
Along with Biswas came one of his neighbours, Surya Prasad Kuswaha, who was impressed by the various Durga idols. "I had heard a lot about the Pujas in CR Park from neighbours and acquaintances but this time I got to see it. I even got to sample some Bengali sweets," Kuswaha said, before leaving the Navapalli Puja Samiti mandap.
As loudspeakers played modern Bengali songs by Manna Dey and Rabindrasangeet by Hemant Kumar, filling those present with nostalgia.
The oldest Puja venue of the city at Kashmere Gate wore the look of Maddox Square, a spunky yet famous south Kolkata venue.
Children in traditional dhoti-kurta ran around their grandfathers while other tiny tots dressed elegantly in sarees peered around from their parents' laps.
The drum beats, the incense, aartis, prasad, the joy in the air and smiles on almost everyone's face added to the festive flavour.
Members of the Sriniwaspuri Sarbajanin Durga Puja Samiti celebrated traditional rituals along with their non-Bengali friends. Shyamal Sharma, general secretary, said, "We have been organising this Puja for the past 53 years along with the other residents of the locality who are non-Bengalis but have been an integral part of this celebration of ours."