Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lokhandwala Durga Puja, Mumbai 2008


The Lokhandwala Durga Puja started by Abhijeet is the most happening puja in Mumbai ... the puja of choice for all the bollywood beauties and tv soap opera starlets who ensure that the glamour quotient is always high !!!

It also has the yummiest food stalls and the grandest evening cultural shows ... this is one pandal where we'll surely spend more time in future ...


On the left here is the Poonam Nagar Puja on Mahakali Caves road ... we had a tough time finding the pandal. This puja has a nice homely and para feel what one would expect in a neighbourhood pandal in Kolkata ... see all the mashimas and kakimas decked up in saris participating animatedly in the puja proceedings !!!

While driving around on Dussera morning in Juhu we saw an effigy of Ravana all ready and waiting to be burnt up in the evening ... Ma told us a very interesting mythological tale connecting Durga Puja to Ramayana :

Ravana had abducted Sita and was holding her captive in Lanka. Ram, Lakshman along with Hanuman and the vanar sena immediately waged war on Lanka. One by one they vanquished the Lankan stalwarts like Kumbhakarna, Meghnad, Indrajeet et al ... finally it came to the crux ... the battle between Ram and Ravana. 

Ram was not too sure of his prowess vis-a-vis Ravana so decided to seek some divine intervention and started praying to Durga for her blessings. Now this was not the usual time of the year when devotees prayed to Durga so she was kind of taken by surprise and was a bit peeved ... also she had a soft corner for Ravana who inpite of all his follies was also a great scholar and a bigtime devotee of Ma Durga !!!

Durga decided to put Ram's devotion to test ... so she completely ignored his tapasya for the first 8 days of Ram's puja. On the ninth day Ram sent Hanuman to get flowers for the puja, with instructions that he should get the rarest of flowers which would hopefully appease the hard to please Durga. Hanuman, scoured the world and found a lake in the himalayas which had exactly 108 unique blue lotuses ... and got all of them for Ram to offer in his puja. Durga played a trick and removed one of the lotuses ... so when Ram started offering the flowers he fell one short of the magic number of 108. 

At this critical juncture Ram immediately decided to offer one of his eyes as the 108th lotus offering to Durga ... he took out his dagger and was about to gough out one of his eyes when Ma Durga appeared before Ram and assured him of victory the next day ... so on the 10th day Ram fought with Ravana and defeated him.

Thats the reason why we have 10 days of Durga Puja just as Ram did ... with the 10th day celebrated as Vijay Dashami or Dussera ... signifying the victory of good over evil !!!


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