Platinum Durga Puja celebrations at Delhi's Minto Road pandal

Royal grandeur, traditional architecture, 'Shehnai Wadaks' and extravagance describe the platinum jubilee Durga Puja celebrations at the Minto Road Pandal, located in central Delhi, away from the clutch of celebrations in Chittranjan Park, home to a large Bengali community.

New Delhi: Royal grandeur, traditional architecture, 'Shehnai Wadaks' and extravagance describe the platinum jubilee Durga Puja celebrations at the Minto Road Pandal, located in central Delhi, away from the clutch of celebrations in Chittranjan Park, home to a large Bengali community.

'Sharad Patra 2014' which completes 75 long years of Puja is one of the oldest Durga Pujo pandals in all of Delhi, say organisers.

"After Timarpur and Kashmere Gate, Minto Road is the oldest Durga Pujo in Delhi. Basically Minto Road started from Timarpur, but government quarters shifted from Timarpur to Minto Road and then it continued here," says Arun Biswas, the treasurer of Minto Road Puja Samity.

The Pujo pandal has been modelled on erstwhile structure of a 'Rajbadi', which is a royal palace. It is said that in the old times, the common folk did not have enough money to create a pandal for the Puja, so the 'Raja' or the king would organise a grand Puja within the quarters of his palace, open to all for the celebrations.

"The first Bengal Durga Pujo was celebrated with a similar style in structure in 1627, so that is the thing we have adopted. We thought; why not adopt the same architecture, because even we have been celebrating Durga Pujo for very long. It has a so- called original Bengali touch. That is the beauty in it," says SS Basak, Secretary of the Samity.

The detailing of the Pandal's design include old-style windows, pillars with detailed panelling, opulent hanging lights to lend it majestic look.

"There will be two Shehnai wadaks at the entrance, those days people used to have Shehnai to welcome all guests. In Bengali culture it is called as 'Nohbhat Khana'- to welcome all the guests to the celebration, to make each one of them feel special," Arun Biswas adds.

Since, the Pandal is celebrating long years of its being, the expenditure of setting up the pandal "has gone up four-hold, the standard of the cultural program has gone up and the lighting has been more intricate," says Basak.The road outside the massive pandal has been dotted with special Bengali lights, adding to the atmosphere of festivity.

"Many people including the President Pranab Mukherjee, senior politicians LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and many other dignitaries visit the pandal every year. We've invited Prasar Bharti chief Jawahar Sircar to the Pandal this year. We're expecting many other dignitaries to come to the pandal," says MK Mukharji, president of the Samity.

The pandal boasts of an over 10 feet high idol of 'Durga Maa'. The 'Debi Sthan', a podium where the idols are placed seats Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati along with Lord Ganesh and Kartik on the periphry. The idols for the Pandal have been crafted by Kolkata-based artist Sukumar Pal.

"The planning for the idols starts much in advance. The artists are usually based in Kolkota, but they come to Delhi a month in advance and after Ganesh Chaturthi, they start their work with the clay. They get around 3 weeks time to complete the idols in the pandals. They work throughout the night usually," shares Basak.

People who come to the Minto Road Puja will be able to enjoy an array of cultural programmes which have been lined up till October 4 when the final immersion of the Durga Maa idol takes place.

Amidst a line of dance and music, the line up includes popular Bengali singer Shubhomita. Like the past many years Pandit Birju Maharaj and eminent Kathak dancer Saswati Sen is scheduled to judge the 'Aarati Nritya' competition on October 3.

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