Shivaji Park’s Bengal Club is all set to celebrate its 82nd Durga Puja with elaborate rituals and cultural activities. The 95 year old club has been organising Durga Puja since 1935 and the red carpet is rolled out to welcome close to 10 lakh devotees every year. Though the club’s puja is highly revered by local bengalis for being one of the oldest and most traditional, the cosmopolitan neighbourhood also participates with spirited fervor in large numbers.
This year, the festivities will commence from September 24th to 30th, marking the victory of goddess Durga over demon Mahishasura. The program schedule of rituals and evening entertainment is as follows :
1) 24th September (Chaturthi) - Anando Mela. Which will have the Club’s members showcasing their culinary skills. Home cooked Bengali food is a big draw for not only local Bengalis but the entire neighbourhood.
2) 25th September (Panchami) – Conch blowing competition
3) 26th September (Shashti) - the first arti of this year’s puja will be performed in the evening at . Prior to that the mood for Puja festivities will be set by performances by the Club’s members singing traditional Bengali devotional songs and dancing to specially choreographed steps, set to the beat of the dhak
4) 27th September (Saptami) – the performing of religious ritual will commence from this day. The rituals will start from , pushpanjali will conducted at , followed by bhog distribution.
5) 28th September (Ashtami) – considered to be the most auspicious day, rituals commence from , pushpanjali at , followed by bhog distribution, Sandhi Puja will be conducted between . Sandhi puja is conducted during the conjunction of Ashtami and Navami, it is said that Lord Ram invoked the Goddess during this period by offering 108 lotuses and diyas, to enable him slay Ravana. The ritual will have devotees offer a similar number of lotuses and diyas.
6) 29th September (Navami) – rituals will commence at , pushpanjali at , Kumari Puja at , bhog distribution and havan at . Kumari Puja is a unique ritual where a girl child between the age group of 6-8 years is worshipped in the form of a live goddess and the devotees and priests then lineup to seek her blessings. Bengal Club is amongst very few Durga mandals who perform this puja. This year 8 year old Saina Chakraborty from Mumbai will be worshipped as the Kumari.
The havan signifies the completion of all the regilious rituals of Durga Puja in its entiriety.
7) 30th September (Dusshera) – rituals will commence from , pushpanjali at , darpan visarjan at , followed by sindur utsav from onwards. The idol will then be taken for immersion at Dadar chowpatty in a festive procession. Sindur utsav is a special ritual where women first offer sindur (vermillon) and sweets to the goddess and then apply sindur on each as a sign of good omen.
Every evening the arti will be performed at and will be accompanied by traditional dhunuchi dance paying obeisance to the goddess.
The bhog served will be the traditional Bengali khichdi, labda (mix vegetables), beguni (brinjal pakoda) and payesh (kheer).
Bengal Club was constituted in the 1922 by a few local bengalis who aimed at forming a community club that will conduct itself as a non-profit organisation to promote charitable, cultural and sports activities.