The Bengali community arrived for Sandhi Puja in full finery at 11.30pm on Wednesday, albeit in smaller numbers than previous years. This vital ceremony marks the cusp of Ashtami and Navami.
The ritual came to life in Kandivli where the Krishti Durga Pujo is housed in a village set-up. “Our mandap has been built around the banyan tree giving a hut-like look. Accordingly, the idol bears a village look. The pandal is located at Shogun Hall because organising the event at our regular open-air venue would make it difficult to maintain Covid protocols,” said spokesman Arindam Dasgupta. Krishti will not host celebrity performers but instead organise in-house programmes to champion young talent.
The HRCWA (Hillside Residents Cultural & Welfare Association) Puja at Thakur Village in Kandivli (East) has shifted to a smaller clubhouse. The organisers thoughtfully announce the menu a day before, and members arrive to pick up parcels the following day.
Joint secretary Sumantra Mitra said, “We cannot invite people for food indoors, but we make sure they do not miss the delectable fish fry, khichdi, fried rice, chicken pakoda and egg roll.”
HRCWA has deepened its focus on corporate-driven social initiatives. Mitra said, “We have devised a vocational training programme named ‘Hridan’ for underprivileged youth, especially girls. Our programme ‘Own Your Garden’ involves creating green spaces with potted plants along the footpath with neighbouring societies. We also gathered 100 rundown bicycles, repaired them and donated them to villagers in Malshej Ghat in two jeeps provided by Mahindra.”
HRCWA has called off Sindoor Khela owing to Covid.
In Navi Mumbai, the 25-year-old Durga Puja of the Koparkhairane Bengali Association at Shetkari Samaj Mandir permits only those visitors who have taken both doses of the Covid vaccine, said secretary Piu Mitra.
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