Durga Puja festivities in Chittaranjan Park on the occasion of Durgotsav were marred for several hours as the Navapalli Puja pandal in the area’s Pocket 40 caught fire in the early hours of Friday.
“The fire started at 3.50 am and was put out by 4:30. Those 40 minutes were enough to transform our puja pandal to ashes. I was here at 4 am and saw everything burn down in right front of me,” said Suprotin Ghosh, joint secretary, sports and competition, Navapalli Puja Samiti. Residents are yet not aware of the cause of fire but rumours of an electrical short circuit were doing the rounds. “As of now, we do not care how the fire started. Fire of the largest magnitude cannot curb our devotion for Durga Ma,” said Suprotin.
With the fire put out and debris cleared by the civic bodies concerned early on Friday morning, members of puja samitis from various blocks in CR Park turned out in large numbers to help re-establish the puja. “I rushed here as soon as I got to know of the fire. The residents here have recovered from the loss in such a brief period, it is just like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” said Kamleshwar Sen, president Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, Kashmere Gate.
“Nobody could fight flames of such magnitude. We could only watch. Ma was burning,” said a tearful Sushmita Boni. Rewarding her worshippers for their immense devotion, Ma re-emerged by 11.30 am. A colourful and vibrant Durga idol was brought to the still-charred ground. A new pandal was set up, several puja samitis brought bhog from their pujas to share with their neighbours in need. The dhakis were beaten yet again, with even more vigour.
Within eight hours of the fire, puja chants could be heard yet again. “This fire may have burnt everything but it helped C.R. Park come together and welcome Ma again, this time under one pandal,” said Subrojit Gupta, a resident of C.R. Park.