Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chittaranjan Park (Bengali Quarters of Delhi) during Durga Puja

 Last evening I was at Chittaranjan Park (the Bengali Quarters of New Delhi) to witness the Durga Puja (Festival of the Goddess Durga). This festival is celebrated to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil demon Mahisasura. So this festival is celebrated to mark the victory of 'Good over Evil'.

During Durga Puja Chittaranjan Park is in an almost carnival type atmosphere. I visited the Puja Pandal (A temporary structure built to venerate the Goddess) of the Co-operative Park, one of the major spot of celebrations in New Delhi. The streets leading up to the pandal were lighted up with bulbs of different hues.

 The idol of Goddess Durga in the Puja Pandal of Cooperative Park

The worshippers (in huge numbers) were dressed in traditional Bengali attire (Men in either Dhoti/Panjabi or Kurta/Pyjama made of either silk or cotton) (Women in either cotton Jamdani or Baluchari sarees or in silk sarees with the latest designs weaved by tantis (traditional bengali weavers) ! Married ladies also had bangles on their wrists and copius amounts of Sindoor, an orange red powder, on the middle of their head). And yes who could forget the large red bindis on their forehead's !!

The Pandal

Worshipers in front of their deity

Interior decorations of the Pandal

Dhak (Dhols or Drums native to Bengal)

The main pandal in the park which housed the idol of the deity was over 40 feet tall, illuminated in blue lights and was looking heavenly. The interiors of the pandal was also decorated in traditional style. By the time I reached the veneration had just ended and the atmosphere was throbbing with festive intensity. Unfortunately so I missed out on the mantras which are an integral part of Durga Puja.. accompanied by the rhythmic beatings of the dhak (traditional drums), smell of the incense sticks, 'dhoono' and flowers.

After the veneration is over people move on to the other half of the Durga Puja festivities which involves feasting. Their were numerous stalls serving spicy street food native to Bengal in the pandal and people were lining up to savour them. I decided to walk down the street from the pandal and indulge in the Bengali Market of Chittaranjan Park which serve great Bengali Fare.

Food Stalls in the Puja Pandal

This place will be jam packed from today (Shashti-October 20th 2012) till (Vijay Dashmi-October 24th 2012), the final day of puja. 

Five minutes of walking and I was looking around the market for the various stall owners serving Lip Smacking delicacies. Here, I must tell you that Bengali Market is a typical one you would find in Bengal in the sense that the shops sell food items, groceries, raw fish e.t.c. which are usually found in Bengal. The stall owners come and sit only in the evening and it is that period of the day when you should be visiting this market (any time of the year) if you wish to taste delicious Bengali street food.

Shop in Bengali Market selling Tikkas and Kathi Rolls

Phuchka (Gol Gappa) Seller

Preparing Chur Mur

Some of the street food which was on offer was Phuchka (Gol Gappa's), Chur Mur (A sweet and sour preparation of crushed Gol Gappas, boiled and diced potatoes, chopped onions, cilantro and various spices e.t.c.), Ghugnee (dried yellow or white peas cooked with gravy Bengali style, served with bhujiya as topping), Mughlai Paratha ( a delicious deep fried stuffed bread), Chops, Cutlets e.t.c.

Chicken Mughlai Parotha  being shallow fried on the girdle

An assortment of Bengali Sweets on display. Observe the earthen pots at the bottom of the display. It is known as Mishti Doi (Sweet Curd), a heavenly preparation and also my favourite :)

And yes a food binge in the Bengali Market is always incomplete if you don't sample the Bengali sweets like Mishti Doi, Labanga Latika, Komola Bhog, Rossogolla e.t.c. which are uniquely different from what you will find in the rest of India.


Facts you might want to know -
- Durga pujais an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar.
- It is celebrated across the predominantly in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, the rest of india, Nepal, Bangladesh e.t.c.