TOP 10 Durgo Pujo Pandals In DelhiGaurav Banerjee
The Durgo Pujo, which commences in the month of October, has been associated with the worship of Durga Maa after she killed the demon, Mahishasura. It is much more recent that the idea of a barowari pujo or community pujo has been appropriated as a cultural symbol demonstrating a sense of collective Bengali identity, irrespective of varied diversities. Apart from Bengal, the Durgo Pujo pandals have penetrated their way deep into various cities where the festival is celebrated with huge pomp and splendour.
As a probashi or a non-resident Bengali, I have been to almost every Pujo pandal across Delhi to experience and contemplate what it would be like in Kolkata, the heart of Pujo celebration. I noted, that every pandal portrays similar attributes but simultaneously, demonstrates heterogeneity in terms of sounds of dhol, the fragrance of flowers, the enthusiasm for dhanuchi dance, the communal bhog, towering idols, aesthetic pandals, the bustling streets and a sense of Bengali identity.
Here is a list of top 10 Durgo pujo pandals which might serve as a home away from home for many individuals:
1) CR PARK PUJO PANDALS
CR Park or popularly referred to as ‘mini West Bengal’ has the spotlight during pujo period as most of the celebrated pandals hail from here. One can visit the Mela Ground Pandal, B Block Pandal and K Block (Cooperative) pandal to experience a wholesome experience ranging from delicious cuisines to cultural aesthetics. Apart from pandals, one could also visit Market no.1 and Market no. 2 for all kinds of food cravings. Further, a week before the pujo commences, a saree mela is also observed. Every pujo enthusiast must have CR Park in his/her list.
Nearest metro station – Nehru Enclave
2) MATRI MANDIR, SAFDARJUNG ENCLAVE
Matri Mandir is essentially a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali and pujo is celebrated in the vicinity of the Mandir. As a personal fan of their bhog, I would suggest that everyone must try their bhog on the Ashthami ( or the 8th day) to fulfil their bhog cravings. It too offers many great performances of artists hailing from different parts of the country.
Nearest Metro station – AIIMS
3) AARAMBAGH DURGO PUJO, NEAR RK ASHRAM
One of the most expensive pujos, it made highlights in 2013, after it constructed a pandal of worth 1 crore, to celebrate their 25 years of existence. The pomp and splendour continue to thrive but this year due to the pandemic, things might be different. Still, it would be a great visit once the disease extinguishes.
Nearest Metro station – RK Ashram
4) MINTO ROAD KALI BADI
Another essentially a Kali Mandir, that too one of the oldest, this pujo offers a cumulative of food, festival and fun. However, one must avoid using their own car for travelling as they could witness a lot of hurdles looking for space.
Nearest Metro Station – Rajiv Chowk
5) CIVIL LINES PUJO
The pandal, which has served more than 100 years in providing people with joy and cultural belongingness, is popular for its aesthetic standards and creativity. The main attraction is its tradition to carry Durga Maa in a bullock cart for immersion.
Nearest Metro station – Civil Lines
6) KASHMIRI GATE PUJO
Another century-old pujo samiti, the pujo pandal hosts a range of cultural activities and food stalls, among which my favourite includes mutton curry and rumali roti. One could also witness the dhunuchi dance during evening prayers, which truly reflects the happiness and joy among the people.
Nearest Metro station – Civil lines
7) GREATER KAILASH II PUJO
In the vicinity of CR Park, this pujo pandal hosts a low key Durgostav which is honestly one would like after days of pandemonium and chaos. The committee offers a range of performances which soothes your mind from the hustle-bustle of life.
Nearest Metro station – Greater Kailash
8) NEW DELHI KALI BADI
Another Kali Mandir, it has been a centre of celebrations for over 90 years. It is a paradise for food enthusiasts, as the road opposite to the pandal is laid with food stalls. One could also catch some good Bengali singers and dancers performing there.
Nearest Metro station – RK Ashram
9) MAYUR VIHAR PUJO COMMITTEE
Celebrated on a huge ground, the pujo pandal offers a wide range of cultural activities and games which engages both youth and the seniors. An epitome of artistic brilliance, the idol is depicted with sheer brilliance.
Nearest Metro station – Mayur Vihar
10) KAROL BAGH PUJO
Located in central Delhi, the Karol Bagh pujo is a perfect place for shopping as well as Pandal hopping. One can visit the Karol Bagh pujo at night to experience the beauty and simplicity of the idol.
Nearest Metro station – Karol Bagh
It must be noted that due to the raging pandemic, most of the pandals have restrained themselves from allowing entries. The pandals which had uplifted the standards of art and aesthetics will be beaming low due to lack of funds this time. Further, the state has been encouraging the devotees to experience virtual darshan and live streaming of the pujo to maintain the norms of social distancing.
Indeed, this year won’t be the same as previous years, however, one must not be morose and cherish the idea –
Asche bochor aabar hobey!
(“Next year, we’ll celebrate again!”)