Sharadiya Durga Puja 2023 celebrations are of critical importance for Bengalis across India, no matter which city they may be based in. Major cities across the nation, including Kolkata of course, are gearing up for massive Durga Puja 2023 celebrations with theme-based pandals and delicious offerings. Read on for more.
Every year, the Sharodiya or Sharadiya Durga Puja is observed as the major festival of the year for Bengalis living in India and around the world. While most Indians celebrate the nine-days long festival of Navratri at this time, Bengalis pick the five days of Shashthi, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Vijaya Dashami to celebrate the coming home of Maa Durga, who is also known as Mahishasurmardi and Mahamaya. Across India, Navratri 2023 celebrations focus on celebrating the nine forms of Goddess Durga during this festival, but the story behind Bengali Durga Puja is a bit different.
Bengalis celebrate Durga Puja as a festival where Maa Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura after nine days of battle. But another story that is more popular in Bengal says that between the period of Shashthi and Navami, Maa Durga and her children—Karthik, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Saraswati—come back to her maternal home for a visit. So, in Bengal and among Bengalis everywhere, Navratri and more specifically Durga Puja is a time not only to observe fasts and worship the 10-handed deity, but also a time to revel in feasts. After all, when a married daughter comes back home with her kids, isn’t that just the treatment she deserves?
This is precisely what makes Durga Puja 2023 celebrations in Bengal and everywhere Bengalis are a festival not of ritual restraint and fasting for penance, but a time to connect with the daughter, Goddess Durga, who has come for a visit after a year. So, unlike in most Navratri celebrations, preparations of meat, fish and other Bengali dishes is just as prevalent as thalis laden with sweets and snacks. This, and the beauty of each and every idol of Maa Durga, add to the spirits of this celebration. If you are visiting India during this festive period, then pandal-hopping from one Durga Puja festivity to the other is a must.
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Here are all the Indian cities where Durga Puja celebrations are massive and tend to attract crowds for a number of reasons. If you are in India during Navratri 2023, then visiting Durga Puja 2023 celebrations at these Indian cities is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
Naturally the most prominent hotspot for Durga Puja 2023 celebrations in India, Kolkata and its suburbs witness thousands of Durga Puja pandals coming up every year. From the iconic Maddox Square pandal and Ekdalia Evergreen in South Kolkata to the Bharat Chakra and Dum Dum pandals in North Kolkata, the festivities at Kolkata’s pandals should never be missed. When there, don’t miss out on the delectable phuchka, roll and biryani stalls that provide a feast for the senses.
The Bengali community in Mumbai is spread across the town, and so are the Durga Puja 2023 celebrations there. Some of the oldest Durga Pujas in Mumbai are organised in Bandra and Juhu, so those are must-visits. Chembur, Navi Mumbai, Powai and other areas with a significant Bengali presence also have thriving Durga Puja celebrations with Mahabhog on Ashtami that is usually open to all.
Delhi’s CR Park, Greater Kailash and Daryaganj areas have some of the oldest and most vibrant Durga Puja celebrations. Given that CR Park is a hub for Delhi Bengalis, there are plenty of pandals—along with loads of stalls that serve up all sorts of Bengali food—that you can visit within a span of a day or two. Gurgaon, Noida and places like Dwarka and Mayur Vihar also have massive Durga Puja celebrations with a great footfall.
Among the oldest Durga Puja celebrations in Bengaluru is the Jayamahal Durga Puja, which has vibrant puja rituals, beautiful idols and cultural programmes across the five days of the festival. The Durga Puja pandals at HSR-layout, RT Nagar and Kalyani Kala Mandir are also prominent Durga Pujas of the city. While there, you must enjoy the theme-based pandals and the food stalls cooking up delectable Bengali snacks.
A city with plenty of Bengali community presence as well as Assamese people who also celebrate this festival, Guwahati lights up with multiple Durga Puja celebrations every year. The Athgaon Durga Puja in Guwahati is especially known for coming up with beautiful, themed Durga idols—including a tribal-themed Durga pratima this year which is attracting quite a lot of crowds. The pandals at Bishnupur and Bhaskar Nagar are also must-visits.
The holy city of Varanasi has hundreds of Durga Puja pandals and celebrations every year, some that are open to all and a few that are organised by old Bengali families. The Bhaageshwari Durga Puja at Jaitpur, the one at Lahurabir, Macchodari Park and Sanatan Dharma Inter College are some of the oldest Durga Pujas that are open to all. Each of these pandals also come up with a new socio-culturally relevant theme every year.
Some of the oldest Durga Pujas in Ahmedabad are organised by the Kalibari on Rajpath Rangoli Road and Bharat Sevasram Sangh. While these are certainly crowd-pullers, you should also visit the Durga Pujas organised by local committees across the city, like those in ONGC and Cantonment areas. A key feature of Durga Puja pandals in Ahmedabad is that they also have all-night Garba celebrations nearby, which you can hop over to as night falls.
In 2022, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic receded, Patna saw a 32% increase in the number of Durga Puja celebrations. This year, the capital of Bihar which is home to thousands of Bengalis, will also witness a rise in the number of stunning pandals to visit. Of these, Subhash Park, Jagdeo Path, Kadamkuan and Anandpuri are expected to have vibrant Durga Puja 2023 celebrations.