Whatever shape she takes in different parts of the country, the goddess has all of India enthralled.
For Gujaratis and Maharashtrians, she is Amba, the queen of Navratri. For Bengalis, she takes the form of Durga, worshipped during the Durga Puja celebrations beginning on Thursday.
For most Bengali families, this means hopping from one pandal to another, to pray, feast, shop and socialise. And then there are those who prefer to bring the goddess home, like Vashi businessman Ashit Ghosh.
“This year, I’m finally fulfilling my childhood wish of celebrating Durga Puja at home,” said Ghosh.
His is a household pandal set up in his garage, but Ghosh has made it a grand public affair.
The idol maker, priest, drummers and popular singers have been brought down from Kolkata, and local Bengali caterers will serve bhog to an expected 250 guests every day.
Ghosh has funded the event himself.
While the bigger public pandals spend lakhs to attract crowds with varied themes, décor, and entertainment, it is the myriad rituals of Durga Puja that excite traditional families.
“For the pujas, we buy new clothes, clean our houses, and offer anjali (flowers) in the mornings,” said Mita Sarkar, a housewife. “Women also make boron dala, a cane tray with offerings like bananas, sindoor (vermillion) and alta (red liquid applied on idol’s feet) for the goddess.”
On the last day, on September 28, is a special puja, where married women offer sindoor to the goddess to pray for a long life for their husbands.