Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dussehra / Durga Puja - Juhu (Mumbai)

For three years Paro has been inviting us to the North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja. This is our last opportunity, so we went to Bombay for Dussehra -- the holiday that marks the end of Navratri / Durga Puja.

The Bollywood roots of this Durga Puja show from the very beginning. While most pandals have a fancy entry gate, this one is made to look like a temple entrance. A famous early Bollywood director helped start this puja over 65 years ago.
The entryway -- again made to look like a temple hallway. The Meenakhshi Temple in Madurai was the inspiration for this year's Durga Puja set. While it looks like stone, it's mostly fabricated from plaster. Very impressive.
Another view of the entryway.
The main pandal. The air-conditioning is very welcome! Durga is the center attraction, with Ganesha and Laxmi on her right, and Saraswati and Kartikeya on her left.
A closer view of Durga.
Durga is Shiva's wife, so there was a Nandi bull facing the Goddess and Shiva. (See next photo below.)
Shiva sits atop the entrance to the pandal.
The puja serves about 3000 meals each day. This is the kitchen area where the food is prepared. (We got the "backstage tour" because Paro's family is one of the families that started this Durga Puja many years ago.)
We returned in the evening to bid good-bye to the gods. Disassembly of the set had already commenced, the priests had left to return to their homes, and the gods were being prepared for their immersion in the Arabian Sea.

Women went up to each god, starting with Durga, and added sindoor (red powder) to the face, cheeks, and hands, then fed them a bit of sweets. Some also performed a brief aarti with an oil lamp.
After anointing the gods, women greet and apply sindoor to each other. Red is everywhere! In the background you can see the set being dismantled. It's too bad these amazing sets are simply trashed. In the US these sets could be sold/auctioned to help with next year's expenses.

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