Mumbai readies for Durga PujaOctober 3rd, 2010 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, Oct 3 (IANS) A nearly million-strong Bengali community, including Bollywood celebrities like Rani Mukherjee, is all set to celebrate Durga Puja in this Maharashtra capital and its adjoining areas starting Oct 13.
The number of Durga Puja mandals (associations) have gone up from last year’s 86 to 91, indicating the growing popularity and significance of the festival in the country’s commercial capital, prominent community activist Prasanta Kundu said.
Of the 91 mandals, six are founded, sponsored or patronised by leading names in Bollywood, including actress Rani Mukherjee, her uncle and 1960s star Joy Mukherjee, actor Biswajit, singer Abhijit Bhattacharya, ace director Basu Chatterjee, actor Mithun Chakravarty, singer Shaan and the late music director Jagmohan.
For the second consecutive year, the Durga Puja at Pragati Vasai East (Thane) will have a thematic celebration, based on the collision between two foreign ships Aug 7 in the Mumbai harbour.
“The theme of a typical Bengali village proved very popular last year. This time, we have selected the ship collision that led to oil spill, the eco-disaster and related aspects,” said M.S. Bose, an office-bearer.
The Ramakrishna Mission, Khar, will have its tradition of ‘Kumari Puja’ in which a young girl (around 8-9 years old) would be decked up and worshipped as Goddess Durga.
“The Ramakrishna Mission is the only one which conducts ‘Kumari Puja’ in this region. It draws huge crowds and the celebrations are very simple,” Kundu said.
“The young Goddess Durga steps down and everybody falls at her feet for blessings,” he explained.
Besides, a unique Durga Puja is held at Sion-Koliwada by Bengali employees of the Mumbai airport.
“As the airport employees are in transferable jobs, they do not take up fund-raising drives, but donate small amounts from their individual resources for the Puja,” Bose said.
Similar pujas are held by the Bengali sailors in Navy Nagar, and the goldsmiths in Zaveri Bazaar, both in south Mumbai, but on a more lavish scale, according to Vasai’s D.K. Biswas.
Among the major draws are the festivities organised by the celebrities in different parts of Mumbai’s western suburbs.
These include Abhijit Bhattacharya’s Andheri Lokhandwala Sarvajanik Durgotsav Samiti and Rani Mukherjee’s at Poddar School, Santacruz.
Bandra Nutanpalli, patronised by ace director Basu Chatterjee, playback singer Shaan and earlier by Mithun Chakravarty and others also draw huge crowds.
Yesteryears actor Joy Mukherjee also conducts a Durga Puja in Andheri Versova.
A large number of Bollywood personalities daily take part in the celebrations by Juhu Cultural Association, founded by the late music director.
The 75-year old Durga Puja at Shivaji Park, Dadar, which was virtually in a limbo, secured permission from the Bombay High Court to hold the celebrations.
Earlier this year, the park had been declared off-bounds for programmes, rallies, functions due to noise pollution complaints by residents.
Some of the popular places the Bengalis visit during the five-day celebrations are Shivaji Park, Tejpal Hall, Andheri, Santacruz, Bandra, Chembur (all Mumbai), Vasai, Navi Mumbai (Thane) and Panvel in Raigad.
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