Even as Durga Puja celebrations in Mumbai are increasing in grandeur and size, there are several associations that stick to tradition. Among them is Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Khar (West), which began its celebrations on Tuesday.
The Math, set up in 1926, is marking the 41st anniversary of its first festivities.
While the first two days see pujas and bhajans lined up all day, the day of Ashtami, which falls on Thursday, will feature the ritual of Kumari Puja. In this, the temple priests offer prayers to a Kumari, a girl who has not attained puberty and is below 11 years of age, and treat her as a manifestation of Durga. The offerings made to the Goddess are given to the Kumari too, with a 45-minute aarti performed in a ritualistic style.
“This ritual was started by Swami Vivekananda at Kolkata’s Belur Math in 1901,” said Swami Sarvalokananda, secretary of the Khar Math. Explaining its significance, the priest said, “We worship God in the form of a living mother. Swamiji [Vivekananda] started it to ensure a respect towards women.”
The idol here has been crafted by an artisan from Kolkata, who marks the third generation of his family engaged with the service for the Math. The clay idol will be immersed on October 4.
At Krishti, a social organisation in Kandivli, the festivities focus on cultural programmes presented by children and the old alike. In its 10th year, the association has given a traditional touch to its makeshift pandal at Lokhandwala Complex. “The façade has been designed like an old mud temple,” said management committee member Shantanu Samaddar.
The Juhu Sarbojanin Durgotsav, now in its 15th year, has combined the festivities with a social cause at its venue Indian Medical Association Hall, Juhu. A special arrangement for Devi’s darshan and bhog has been organised for cancer patients from Bharat Sevasram Sangh, Vashi. “We have also invited under-privileged girls to join us on Vijay Dashmi on October 3,” said spokesperson Biswa Baran Chakraborty.