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Puja flavour, with a Chennai touch

Staff Reporter
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Celebrations in Besant Nagar are marked by a sense of cosmopolitanism, say organisers—Photo: M. Karunakaran
Celebrations in Besant Nagar are marked by a sense of cosmopolitanism, say organisers—Photo: M. Karunakaran

For most of the year, Giri Street is just another lane, indistinguishable from the maze of stretches in T. Nagar.

But for over a week, usually in October, it is abuzz with activity as Bengalis, food lovers and the devout throng the Puja Pandal there. This year is no different with a regular stream of visitors joining the revelry.

Most natives of West Bengal, who are active in the celebrations here, surprisingly do not miss the festivity back home. Chennai-bred, Kolkata-based S. Bhattacharjee (57) in fact came down to Chennai to celebrate. “I’m part of this city. Celebrating Durga Puja with a Chennai flavour is special for us; the cultural set-up of this city makes it a class apart,” he said.

Activities at the pandal in Besant Nagar have always been marked by a cosmopolitan spirit, said 82-year-old Sushyamal Kundu of The South Madras Cultural Association. “We have been celebrating for 35 years; earlier, most of the participants would be Tamilians, Malayalis and Maharashtrians. Now, there are many more Bengalis. I don’t miss Kolkata. I couldn’t have had a better time there,” Mr. Kundu said.

Vikram Pal Chaudhari (31) has spent every Puja here since the age of 13. “Nearly a 100 of us have been celebrating Durga Puja here for years now. We are looking forward to Maha Astami on Saturday,” he said.

Delicacies including Mishti Doi, Payash, Rosogulla, Radha Ballabhi and Tarkari are in much demand in Puja Pandals across the city. “The distribution of Bhog is undoubtedly a highlight of the day and during lunch, we have a whale of time with Khichdi, Labra, Payash and Bhaja,” Mr. Chaudhari added.

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