The North Bombay Sarbojanin Durgotsav started by producer-director Sashadhar Mukerji, one of the founding fathers of popular cinema, is hosting its event in Tulip Star hotel, Juhu. Meanwhile Banga Maitri Sansad (BMS) is located in Prabhat Colony, Santacruz East.
The first is a star-studded Puja managed by Mukerji’s descendants including son Deb Mukerji, grandchildren Kajol, Samrat, Sharbani, Rani and Ayan Mukerji. The BMS pandal is managed by corporate professionals.
Senior actor Debu Mukerji who starred in movies like ‘Ek Baar Mooskura Do’, ‘Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool’ and ‘Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki’, is at the helm of the North Bombay Sarbojanin Durgotsab. He said, “I am privileged to continue a tradition that was started by my mother and then my father, who held sway over the film industry in 1948. His word commanded such respect that every artiste performed here over the decades. From Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey to my uncle Kishore Kumar and Bappi Lahiri, all have sung here. We as children would serve bhog personally to our guests, and now Kajol, Rani and the other youngsters occasionally do so too.”
The Mukerjis’ stately Durga idol is carved by sculptor Amit Pal, son of master moortikar Nemai Pal who passed away a few years ago. The moorti was brought to the pandal Wednesday. “We are also installing the large Durga idol that featured in my son Ayan Mukerji’s film ‘Brahmastra’. Another highlight is that we will be paying tribute to composer Bappi Lahiri, my cousin, who passed away recently,” said Debu Mukerji.
Several stalls selling ethnic delicacies, handicrafts, designer outfits and saris from all parts of the country are a major attraction.
North Bombay’s Puja pandal serves bhog comprising four or five Bengali delicacies like khichdi and dessert to 5,000 people each on Saptami, Ashtami and Navami. “The queues are so long that people wait for up to two hours. We feel so pleased when they say it was worth the wait. We have seating arrangements for elders and handicapped persons, ramp for wheelchair entry, water, medical facilities and security. In fact the glitter of the Puja often masks the blood, sweat and tears that has gone into its organisation!” laughed Mukerji.
The immersion of their idol is a sight to behold. The heavy moorti is lifted in the air by a crane, circulated thrice mid-air and lowered into the sea off Juhu Beach. “Beach walkers, even passing motorists, stop in their tracks to witness this phenomenal visarjan,” laughed Mukerji.
Over in Santacruz East, the Banga Maitri Sansad had Governor BS Koshiyari release a special stamp in honour of its 75th anniversary Puja. “Union minister Piyush Goyal will inaugurate our Puja on Panchami day September 30 along with the Maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission,” said president Debabrata Maitra.
BMS’s idol is based on the concept of Sonar Durga. “The colour gold represents grandeur and red stands for auspicious festivities. The pandal will be designed in gold and red,” Maitra said.
General secretary Bivas Chakravorty spearheaded BMS’s cultural programmes. He said, “We are hosting a musical presentation named Isha besides a performance by Bengali folk singer Mainak Palodhi, a cultural festival ‘Flavours of Bengal’, and gala musical nite with Under Cover, the fusion band.”