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Durga Pujo: 10 Days That Bring North India To A Halt

The Goddess Durga idols are decorated beautifully at the pandals in Chittaranjan Park., Photo Credit: Meenketan Jha
03 Min Read

A festival where the entire family comes together, where the house buzzes with energy - Dusshera has always had a soft corner in every North India's heart.

Dusshera has always struck a magical chord with me, a festival which has remained close to my heart. I can recall the family trips to our ancestral village to celebrate the 10 days of festivities. The oncoming of Durga Pujo meant that the whole family - from grandparents to cousins to remotely related relatives - would congregate at our ancestral home. Regardless of the files and files of office work my father and chachas had laid out in front of them, all was to be ignored during these ten devotion filled days. 

From eating jalebis for every meal to dishing out pani-puri plates every evening, Dusshera was a break from the monotony of grade school. The youngest of my family, till my younger brother decided to trot along, I was pampered to no bounds. Durga Pujo was my payday, my way of securing new toys and gifts until new year. With so many options at hand, if one of my relatives refused I could always just go onto the next. 

Fast forward a decade, all of that seems a distant memory. Far away from family during the season of festivities, Dusshera didn't seem like the festival I grew up adoring. It had flown over my head in the last few years when I slogged my way through college. But this year, I hoped to relive some of those moments from my childhood. With optimism, I made my way to Chittaranjan Park in Delhi where numerous pandals have been set up to pay homage to Goddess Durga and her several forms. Laid out over several acres, the walk from one pandal to the next has the potential to take the steam out of your gas. Unbelievably though, it didn't seem to affect anyone but me. Locals savoured pani-puris outside the pandals while dressed in beautiful traditional wear. Children ran around all decked up in kurtas and salwar-kameez to rejoice Goddess Durga's victory over evil. The statues of the Goddess were embellished with elegance, showing her superior and unquestionable might and power. Drummers added colour through their harmonies. It was after so many years that Dusshera felt like Dusshera.

One of the many forms of Goddess Durga that stand tall at the Chittaranjan Park. The festival marks Goddess Durga's victory over shape-shifting, deceptive, and evil demon, Mahishasura.

Lord Shiva's Nataraja form adorns one of the pandals in Chittaranjan Park. A major festival in Shaktism tradition, where Goddesses are thought to reign supreme, of Hinduism, Shiva and Vishnu also are a part of some of the sub-traditions of this branch of Hinduism.

Another form of Goddess Durga displayed through the idols at the Chittaranjan Park. The Durga Puja festival dates coincide with Vijayadashami observed by other traditions of Hinduism, where the Ram Lila is enacted — the victory of Rama is marked and effigies of demon Ravana are burnt instead.

Women dress up in their traditional attire during the Durga Pujo.

A drummer at the festival gears up to play his part and add harmony and colour this extravagant festival.

Locals in thousands made their way to Chittaranjan Park to celebrate the occasion. Many came with their extended families and loved ones.

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