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Maha Ashtami evening was a glittering affair. Crowds everywhere, in their best new clothes and dazzling jewellery, were out in very large numbers, praying to the Goddess at the pandals, thronging the food stalls, and lapping up all the entertainment programs lined up specially for this night.

Music director Pritam, riding the wave of his recent super-hit film Barfi!, which had some really fresh and hummable melodies, rocked the stage at Juhu, which Rani Mukherjee, herself having created quite a stir with her last week release of Aiyya, has been passionately promoting. The Shakti Samanta Puja had Miss Jojo, the pop queen of Kolkata, live on stage. A celebrated singer for her husky, attitude-laden renditions of peppy numbers, her song selections were clearly not well thought out. Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’ is definitely a misfit in the Durga Puja ethos!

Yesterday was Nabami, the day the Goddess is worshiped as Aparajita (the undefeated) after vanquishing the demons. A sultry day brought a sudden burst of unexpected rains in the evening, and pandal-hoppers scurried for the inadequate covers of the Puja canopies. Soaked they may be to the skin, but the spirits did not dampen. So when the grand diva with the booming voice, Usha Uthup, hit the stage in (surprisingly rainless!) Bandra, people flocked in from all parts of the city to listen to her belt out numbers like Kolaveri D, Hai Ye Maya from Don 2 and Senorita from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. And when she switched to high gear with Apadi Podu, most of the 2000 plus adoring crowd were on their feet, a common sight at her concerts everywhere!

The day was peppered with several interesting ‘adda’ sessions (the favourite Bengali pastime of chatting, debating and discussing endlessly about everything under the sky!). One was back-stage with Usha (didi) where she was happy to reveal the secret behind her beautifully embroidered Mojaris… she was wearing Reebok running shoes that she had herself styled into traditional footwear to match her gorgeous Saris! Well, considering I still wear a Dupatta exclusively designed by her (part of a limited-edition music merchandise collection at Planet M, the music store), I am not surprised at her many talents ๐Ÿ™‚

Another chat was with the trio of ace pandal-hoppers Sumanto, Alison and Deepika over platefuls of Hot Mutton Curry and Rice, several delicious parcels of Bhetki Paturi and some really creamy Mishti Doi.

It was great bumping into the ‘twin’ brothers Supratik and Sumonto (I can’t help it if you guys look so alike, can I?), full of new ideas and enthusiasm to make their Puja bigger and better.

And then there was the Rochelle and Ferrero Rocher adda session at Kalyan (Fine Chopped) and Kainazโ€™s place with Kurush, Rhea, Bonny and Jeet joining in a zesty discussion on the freaky similarities between the Parsi and Bengali communities, and the quirkiness of devotional songs, sometimes completely lost in translation! (song ‘Mere sapne mein aai Mahamai’)

Today is Vijaya Dashami โ€“ the last day of the Puja, when the Goddess leaves for her heavenly abode via a symbolic water immersion. Plans are on for a last afternoon Bhog at one of the pandals and a quick round up of the Puja this year. Might just throw in a few more fun facts and tidbits for yโ€™all to nibble on ๐Ÿ˜‰ Stay tuned!