From home delivery of bhog to live-streaming of aarti, here's what Durga puja and Navratri organisers are doing to ensure you have a safe festive season
Natraj Navratri Utsav Mandal, Byculla
Puja at Natraj Navratri Utsav Mandal
Established in 1938, the Natraj Navratri Utsav Mandal will keep its doors open for devotees, subject to strict social-distancing measures. Tarang Anil Dedhia, a member, says devotees can also view the aarti from home, via their social media channels. "We have reduced the size of the murti from eight feet to four feet. Unlike every year when the puja is open to all twice a day, we plan to restrict it to the evening. If someone wants to sign up for the puja, they have to do so beforehand so we can manage the time slots," he says. "We are still figuring out how prasad will be distributed," he shares, adding that they are giving garba performances a miss.
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Bengal Club, Shivaji Park
UNLIKE many mandals which are going for ghot puja — symbolic worship of urns — Bengal Club in Shivaji Park will welcome their idol inside the club premises, instead of the big pandal that's set up every year. Joyjeet Jalui, executive committee member of the club, which is observing its 85th durgotsav, shares, "We will live-stream the puja on social media handles, YouTube and TV." Since no festival is complete without bhog, they will deliver the same to your doorstep, if you opt for puja offering above Rs 1,200.
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North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja
Organiser Deb Mukherjee laments that the festivities at this star-studded puja are heavily muted this year. "It doesn't look like Durga puja at all. There is no bhog, no flowers and I can't call people because if anyone gets COVID-19 then I'll feel guilty," he confesses, adding that is the reason he's asked family members like actors Rani Mukerji and Kajol, and director Ayan Mukerji to not pay a physical visit. He adds that they have booked a hall where a priest will perform all the necessary rituals, which will be live-streamed. The link for it will be revealed on October 19.
Korakendra Navratri Naidu Club, Borivali
The Korakendra ground in Borivali hosts one of the biggest celebrations in the city every year. Ganesh Naidu of Naidu Club, the organisers, tells us the puja will continue this year in line with the BMC norms. "We've made a Navratri mandir like every year and devotees are welcome, although we'll ensure darshan is done while maintaining social distancing," he says, adding the affair will be live-streamed. The garba will go virtual, too, and there will be nine days of health camps.
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Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav
The Hiranandani Gardens-based Powai Sarvajanin Durgotsav's theme for 2020 is "shukher khnoje", Bengali for in search of tranquility, says Sourav Mitra, chairman, Powai Bengali Welfare Association. "This year, we need Ma Durga's blessings more than ever," he says, adding, "While the mandap isn't open to the public, we'll telecast all rituals — from pushpanjali to shondhi puja — online and on TV. All platforms will be available via a QR code." They have also lined up a host of cultural events online.
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Krishti Lokhandwala Township
A vacant flat in Andheri East will be the epicentre of the festivities for this homely puja. Committee member Sapna Datta tells us that a small murti from Kolkata will be placed there, and two priests, also flown in from the eastern city, will offer prayers with no more than five others in the room at a time, arriving in batches. All the puja activities will be virtually streamed for members to watch from their homes, though the link for it hasn't been decided yet. Bhog will be home-delivered to interested people, and there will be singing and drawing contests for children, all online of course.
A temple of hope
The 15-year-old Shiv Shakti Mitra Mandal, based near the LPC Colony in Sion East, has found a unique way to keep the spirit of Navratri alive. Advisor Ashok Kurmi tells us that considering the fact that the area has a lot of kids in the four to seven age group, who have been missing out on online classes, they have turned the mandap into a classroom. "We created the mandap a week before Navratri and it will be there for some time after the festival too. Essentially, the classroom is available for a month," he shares. The mandap has been decked with poems, wall-to-wall puzzles, the alphabet and number boards. "We've laid out boxes on the ground to maintain distance. Kids have been coming in to study. The classes are conducted by older children. During the festival, we'll play rhymes and children's songs on speakers to engage them."
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