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Most of you know by now (by virtue of being a Bengali, or being associated with a Bong!) that Durga Puja to Bengalis is more than just an occasion to worship the Goddess Durga as the destroyer of evil and the protector of humanity. This celebration of the goddess mother is quite simply the mother of all festivals in the country. Months of meticulous planning go into things like the theme of the pandal (marquee), food menu of the community meals ‘bhog’, ‘cultural program’ like plays and song and dance performances by community members, or which new saree or outfit to wear  on which day (with complete accessories like jewellery, bags, shoes etc., mind you!) And all this planning culminates into the 4 big days of the Durga Puja… or just ‘Pujos’ for those in the know  😉

274794-durga-devi-3It’s a level of excitement and energy never seen before and never witnessed later, and as a bystander, or a new-to-the-city rookie in Kolkata, you may well feel overwhelmed by everything around you. The mind-boggling array of idols and pandal themes; the loudspeaker music; the inimitable ‘bhashan’ and ‘dhunuchi’ dance moves; the bright, animated neon lights replicating scenes from pop culture; the dazzle of new clothes and jewellery; the smell of flowers, firecrackers, and smoke from the ‘joggo’ mixing with those of Chilli Chicken, Rolls, Dosa and Biryani from the limitless food stalls along every street; the surging crowds out ‘pandal-hopping’ at all times of the day and night; and the never-ending ‘adda’ sessions and reunions with friends, relatives, neighbours, their friends, their relatives and their neighbours too. Yes, it’s a lot to take, but then you never get to be just a bystander, because you invariably get sucked into the immense warmth and earnest enthusiasm of the community around you, and you too join in this thrilling celebration of togetherness, of life itself in a way!

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Living in Mumbai for the last 16 years, I used to miss the ‘Pujo frenzy’ that takes over Kolkata at this time of the year. But not anymore. What started as a small celebration by Bengali goldsmiths to keep alive the traditions in Mumbai, has seen a definitive and  collective flexing of the Bengali cultural muscles in recent years, resulting in more than 250 community Durga Pujas spread across the length and breadth of the city. That may be nothing compared to the 5000 plus in Kolkata, and a point of contention with Delhi-NCR’s 400 strong. But  when it comes to shining biggest and brightest, there’s no comparison to the glamour quotient in and mass enthusiasm for the Durga Pujas that are backed, organised, promoted and presented by some of the biggest ever Bollywood celebrities.

12065496_10156128484000117_8897506200787867502_nIf you want to want to immerse yourself completely in Mumbai’s own brand of Pujo festivities, you’ll find plenty to dabble with this weekend. And if you are confused about where to start, don’t worry, I’m here to help! Below is a meticulously put-together, pin-dotted and trivia-sprinkled Pandal Hopping Map of some of the Durga Pujas in Mumbai that you should, must and need to visit.

So girls, put on your traditional White Saree with Red border, and boys your Pleated Dhoti with Starched Kurta!

Gather up your gang, hire a car (please don’t drive, I beg you!), build up your appetite for plenty of delicious, hot and spicy Bengali food!

And let Follow The Eaten Path’s easy ready reckoner show you a fabulous and memorable Pujo in Mumbai! It’s absolutely FREEEEEE, no tricks, no IOUs. Just click on the location markers for trivia and info, and promise to have a good time, ok? Shoo… off you go! 🙂

May these Pujos be the best yet for you!