A dear friend of mine asked me day-before yesterday, “What is the significance of Mahalaya?”
While explaining her the significance of Mahalaya and Devipaksha, I got choked. Mahalaya marks the auspicious beginning of the festivities of Durga Pujo. Tuning into the voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra is not only a ritual in Bengali families, it is an emotion. The thought itself still gives me goosebumps.
Pujo is round the corner and Mahalaya is barely a few days away. I had been a Probashi-Bangali for the first ten years of my life. Durga Pujo did not mean anything to me then (or may be I was too young to realise its significance). After we shifted to Kolkata, Durga Pujo felt a little different. We celebrated Durga Puja at our Complex/Housing Society, where we would all gather together and engage in the festivities. I would participate in the cultural events, and would often bag a prize or two. There would be Ashtamir Bhog and Nabamir Maha Bhoj. I would barely venture out of my Housing Society to see what Pujo felt like in Kolkata. For me, Pujo would be basking in the festivity of my locality. This continued for the next 8 years or so, until I ushered into my college life. We would go around pandal hopping with college friends, but that would be limited to the nearby areas. Maa would cook all my favourite food, and we would celebrate Durga Pujo as a family, happily indulging and relaxing over barir toiri pulao-kosha mangsho. Relatives would drop by for some adda, and we would Pandal hop occasionally. Until I met Mr. Pal!
Love makes you do crazy things, insane things. Things in a million years you’d never see yourself do.
- So since we live close to South City Mall at Prince Anwar Shah Road, we start out pandal hopping with the King of all award winning pandals. King of the serpentine queues! Also I have not come across a pass for this pandal. Yes, I am talking about New Alipore’s Suruchi Sangha. For Suruchi Sangha, get down at Rabindra Sarobar Metro and walk upto Tollygunj Phari. Then take an auto towards Taratala, which will take you to Suruchi Sangha. We start with it, since our energy is at peak then. You can find more about them HERE
After Suruchi Sangha, you can hop onto its neighbour pandal, Buro Shibtola. Cover Buro Shibtola and you will get Autos that will take you from the narrow gulleys to Chetla directly. Remember, autos will charge anything between Rs.20/- to Rs.25/- per head.
- Cover Chetla Agrani, Akal Bodhon, Yubak Brinda (all located in proximity).
- Next take an auto towards Kalighat Metro. Cover Badamtala Ashar Sangha and the exit will take you to 66 Pally. Do not miss the adjoining pandal at Nepal Bhattacharya Street, because the under-hyped pandals can also be beautiful!
- After this, cross Rashbehari Avenue and take an auto to Deshapriya Park. This pandal again does not usually come with a pass. It might seem crowded, but the crowd is fast moving, owing to its huge space. Cover Deshapriya Park and move to its neighboring pandal, Tridhara Sammilani (again does not come with a pass).
- Cross the road, and walk down to Hindustan Park. Cover Hindustan Park, Hindustan Club, Ballygunj Cultural and Samaj Sebi (all in proximity, walking distance).
- Walk a few more lanes and come to Gariahat next. Start with Ekdalia Park (If possible, cover this during night because the lighting is to watch for). Cross the road and you arrive at Singhi Park.
- From Gariahat, you might hop onto an Auto or Bus towards Kasba. Once you reach Kasba, start off with Rajdanga Nabauday Sangha (right beside the road adjoining Acropolis Mall). Then cross the road and cover Bosepukur Shitala Mandir followed by Bosepukur Talbagan. You may end your pandal hopping session here. Atleast I would have!
Time for some tips : Autos do not ply on Rashbehari Avenue after 4 p.m. during Durga Pujo, so make sure you are comfortable with boarding a bus/cab in the evening.
Chalo that is all for today. Will cover another part of the pandal hopping series in my next post! (READ PART TWO HERE)