The final day today for visiting pandals, and what a glorious three days it has been! Here are some vignettes from today.
That we saw an immense number of people on the streets this evening would be a gross understatement.
Let me try to give you an idea. Add all the people on the street at a given point in time on each of the three days of Shashthi, Saptami and Ashtami. Multiple this figure by two. This perhaps would give you an idea of the the crowds this evening.
All dressed in their festive fineries and moving on foot, two-wheelers, cars, tempos, SUV’s, buses. (In earlier times, groups of people would even hire trucks for this purpose).
Moving, moving, moving.
Moving from one pandal to the other. Sometimes pausing for a snack, or to buy a toy or two for their children. But moving all the time. Racing against time to catch up with all the pandals on their wish-lists. The festivities of Durga Puja are coming to a close. How can they not pay their respects to Maa Durga at the maximum locations possible! (some 250-260 in Jamshedpur this year)
More about the crowds, later. Now a quick recap of the great pandals of Jamshedpur, those architectural marvels. Each pandal better than the other. Each created with creativity and a sense of aesthetics. Have a quick look for yourself.
Pardon the bad picture quality. This pandal is made of leaves (tal patra?). Look at the fine detailing on the ceiling of the pandal.
The “White House” pandal near Gujarati Sanatan Samaj
And take a look at this one at Telco, Hill Top School area:
A traditional structure, the ones I grew up seeing in my childhood. This sort must be a rarity these days.
And of course the one at the hugely popular Sabuj Kalyan Sangh at Telco where the Protima is placed in an auditorium.
The Protimas, of course, are as well made as ever. Here are some of the Protimas we saw today:
I have been told a lot about the pandal in Adityapur which attracts millions of visitors. So much so that the Kharkai bridge is closed to traffic for several hours starting early evening to pre-dawn to make way for the waiting devotees keen to have darshan at the pandal. I did visit the pandal, but that was on Panchami day, just after the inauguration, to beat the crowds.
But even the crowds we saw today in the Telco area near Sabuj Kalyan, between Golmuri and Sakchi, the stretch between Uliyan and Kadma and at Sonari was overwhelming.
Take for example Sabuj Kalyan Sangh, Telco, which attracts a large number of visitors. The crowds were well controlled by the volunteers and security personnel but I still kept worrying about losing track of my children in that crowd of thousands. And I kept hearing constant announcements through our stay at the venue. Like, “Gwaala Basti key Mohan Kumar aap jahaan kahin bhi hon yahan aa jaaiye. Aapki bachchi bahut der sey aapka intizaar kar rahi hai.” Or, “Ghadi park ka Raju….” etc etc.
It was quite a task to negotiate our way in and our way out of the Sabuj Kalyan pandal. We were tempted to check out the massive mela at the venue, but found the task quite daunting and gave up!
Hats of to them in keeping alive the multi-lingual and multi-cultural ethos of the city. And presenting to the visitors remarkably well-made pandals, most, of course, being near replicas of well-known temples and architectural landmarks. All made by creative artists from all over.
In Jamshedpur, Durga Puja festival is not limited to Bengalis alone but it belongs to all!
The hunt for my spring-monkey has drawn a blank. Those following my posts on Puja over the last few days would have read about this search. I have lost all hopes now after four days. I do not think my spring-monkey will be available again. Life needs to move on, and I should stop fretting about this. Some may wonder why I hold the spring-monkey so dear and why its absence saddens me so much. Maybe one day I will do another post, a post devoted to my spring-monkey.
Post Script: Thank you dear readers for your responses to this series of posts which began as a small personal thing initially but I can tell you it has got rather unexpected response from readers all over. I will try to do a post tomorrow for Bijoya, but I thought it appropriate to convey my thanks today itself to all you readers for being with me on this journey through the Pujas! Do let me know how you found the overall series. You may either comment directly on this blog or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org