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Durga Puja Pandal Hopping In Pune

- Sonika Khani

India and its festivals are celebrated with so much of dedication and enthusiasm. That is one of the things I really love about our country and culture. One may not celebrate each and every festival but when people do that around you, the days feel so full of life. Plus, you get to learn or observe other traditions and culture too right? So, which festival do you celebrate? I know one which is just around the corner and people in Pune love being a part of the celebrations. A festival that is typically celebrated in the parts of West Bengal, Assam and nearby states is now being celebrated all over the country. It has been over 15 years of Durga Puja celebrations is Pune. A beautiful Bengali festival that commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo named Mahishasura. Every year the dates change as the festival is celebrated according to the lunar calendar. Durga Puja takes place during the last five days of Navaratri and Dussehra.

There are many festive activities that take place during these days. To name a few :

Setting of the Pandal

Where the idol of Goddess Durga is kept & worshiped. People from various areas come to perform the rituals and prayers inside the Pandal. There are various sizes of Pandals that one will notice in the city. From small pandals to magnificent ones is setup before the rituals start. A lot of thought and creativity goes into curating the pandals as many decorate it from being inspired by various themes.

Food Stalls

Another huge affair that takes place during the Puja are the food stalls. You will easily spot them alongside the Pandals. One just cannot miss out on the delicious food like Sandesh, Macher Jhol, Kosha Mangsho, Kichuri Bhog, Mutton Chops, Chowmein, Ghugni and lots more with your friends and family.

Skits, Music & Dance

From kids to adults, all enjoy taking part in showcasing their talent at the pandals. Your day won`t be complete if you forget to witness the beautiful acts. For all those who can`t visit their home town to celebrate this grand festival can still enjoy it being here in Pune as this city has recreated the Kolkota magic where the Pushpanjali takes place in the morning followed by bhog every afternoon.

When I shifted to Pune in 2012, I had a lot of Bengali friends who were so close to me. I still remember how sad they used to get when they wouldn’t get a chance to go to Kolkata to celebrate it with their family. They obviously found alternatives and spotted some wonderful places in Pune to enjoy Durga Puja. I love witnessing various festivals, so I too tagged along with them. Since then, every year I visit the pandals and relish the street food stalls.
Here are the lists of pandals that you can visit and still not miss home.

1.Koregaon Park

Rohi Villa in lane number 7 is one of the best, oldest and famous pandals during puja. For those visiting it for the first time, it is surely going to be an experience you will never forget. From worshiping the majestic idols, to relishing the savory & mishti food, and enjoying a little bit of drama, they have it all. I visited this pandal with my bong besties, dressed up in sarees all set to get the festive feels. The food was to die for, the skits performed by the kids were very entertaining and well-organized, the set up was just mind blowing and the idol and decoration was beyond gorgeous. I being a Punjabi also believe in Goddess Durga. So, to get blessings from her and being a part of this beautiful festival surely gave me goose bumps. My friends and I had a lovely time at the pandal and made plans to visit the next one already. Gear up for a fun filled evening all you people in Pune! It is Home away from home.

2. Salunke Vihar

All those who wish to enjoy the pandal nearby Salunke Vihar or NIBM can visit the pandal behind ABC farms. The Anandam Association organizes the rituals and cultural programs. An evening surely well spent with the variety of food, music, dance and prayer.

3. Baner

Another well-know pandal in Govinda Garden that takes place every year is very famous for their décor, representing the Bengali culture and the activities that are performed. It is a very unique and a different experience that one must not miss if staying in or around Baner.

4. Hadapsar

If you are a person who loves to get an experience of all the pandals, then this one should be on your list. This one is at the Corporation Ground, Bhosle Nagar in Hadapsar. Bring out the foodie in you and get into binge eating mode as this pandal will offer traditional Bengali food. Gorge on the tasty meat filled rolls, chops, Indian Chinese and bhog that every Bengali will definitely relish. If your stomach is full from the variety of food, you can also do a bit of shopping from various stalls that offer artifacts, clothes etc. Be it a Bengali or a Non-Bengali, you are bound to enjoy the festive season of Durga Puja.

5. Khadki

Are you pandal hopping? Then do visit the Kali Bari Temple in Khadki for an even more traditional Durga Puja celebration. If you visit in the afternoon, you can savor the free bhog. This temple is dedicated to Goddess kali that is celebrated with lots of dancing, food and music. This temple complements to the beauty and heritage of Pune along with being a major attraction for Durga Puja amongst Bengalis living in this city.

Now that we have listed down the famous pandals, we hope you enjoy your festive time in Pune! If you do come across other pandals, do let us know how your experience was and what did you like. Happy Durga Puja!


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