With Maa Durga having come to visit her beloved devotees, the Bengalis who can’t make it to Kolkata, due to a classic Mumbai work scene, must be getting terribly homesick. Mumbai might not be able to recreate what Kolkata does in these days, but it certainly knows how to celebrate a festival! Most Bengalis know where their pandals are in Mumbai and yet here’s a list – for those rare few who might not. For others who might want to see the Devi in all her splendor, do some serious celeb-spotting and gorge on a royal Bengali feast, here’s where you should be.
1.Powai Bengali Welfare Association – This pandal is highly famous for being the most innovative of them all. Every year, they find newer, more imaginative and increasingly beautiful ways of portraying Maa Durga in her shrine. Sprawling across the stretch of Hiranandani Gardens, this pujo pandal sees the biggest number of devotees every year. Famous singers such as Javed Ali and Palash Sen come to perform here and the highlight of the place is a Dhunuchi dance competition – where you hold an earthen pot filled with smoking coals and dance to the feverish beats of a dhol. If you want to get the best of Mumbai and Kolkata, be here.
2.Balkanji Bari, Mukherjees – For those who have celeb-spotting on the top of their list, it cannot get better than at Tulip Star. Balkanji Bari, the house of none other than the great actress, Rani Mukherjee. Durga puja, here, is hosted by the Mukherjees, mainly by Rani Mukherjee, Kajol and Tanuja. This pandal glitters with the magnificence of the Devi and with the cluster of stars visiting. The venue is open to public for these many days.
3.Shivaji Park’s Bengal Club – This is the haunt of the foodies, shopaholics and homesick Bengalis. It is the oldest Durga Pujo in the city. It may not be big or grand, but it’s beauty lies in being simple and old. It surely does a grand job of recreating the platter of Bengal complete with steaming hot mutton, chicken and fish chops, mountains of rice with rivers of curries flowing down them, rolls, stuffed parathas and of course, Bengali sweets galore. Baluchari, kantha and tenth sarees, and traditional terracotta jewellery from Paschimbanga are here as Mumbai’s gifts to the homesick Bengalis and shopaholics. This pandal is at the Bengal Club, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar West.
4.Ramakrishna Mission – This is as authentic as the pujo gets in Mumbai. The traditional Kumari Puja is the highlight of this pandal. In this puja, an eight-year-old girl is decked up on Ashtami day as Godess Durga, made to sit on a throne and worshipped by a swarm of devotees who shower her with petals, make offerings to her and seek her blessings. Besides recapturing rural Bengal, it also offers delicious homely bhog. Find yourselves this year at Ramakrishna Mission Marg, 12th Road, Khar West, and you will come back year after year.
5.Vashi, Sector 15 – Another great foodie haunt is here! Those who come here will wait all year round to get their hands on the chicken rolls, Mughlai parathas, Kolkata’s famous biryani and rosogullas. The Devi is stunning but you come here mainly to throw your diet and weight loss programs to the winds. For live-to-eat addicts, falling off the wagon is completely worth it at the ICL School Ground, Sector 15, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, suring the days of Durga Puja.
These are the five most famous and happening pandals in Mumbai where you can have a glorious rendezvous with Maa Durga, her devotes and Bengali food. Other pandals you could visit are the Bengal Institute of Art & Culture in Mulund West, The North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Charitable Trust in Santacruz West, the Aponjan Cultural Association Puja in Mira Road East, The Assam Association Puja in Assam Bhawan at Vashi, the Kalbadevi Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee Event at Kalbadevi, Shakti Samanta’s Puja near National College at Bandra West and the Andheri Lokhandwala Sarvajanin Durgotsav Samiti’s Event at Lohankdwala, Andheri West.
Photographers, devotees and fun lovers do not want to miss out on any of these pandals – they are a dream come true for all of you. Any other pandals that you guys out there might know of, please do share with our Bengali and non-Bengali friends. Enjoy yourselves this Durga Pujo and may the blessings of the Goddess be with you.