Navratri 2019: Mumbai's Oldest Durga Pooja Pandal in Dadar's Shivaji Park

The Bengal Club in Dadar's Shivaji Park is known for its elaborate religious rituals along with their social work during durga pooja.


Shivaji Park’s Bengal Club is all set to celebrate its 84th Durga Puja with elaborate traditional rituals and cultural activities between October 3 and 8. The 97-year-old club has been organising Durga Puja, it’s signature event since 1935 and the red carpet is rolled out to welcome lakhs of devotees every year.

Joy Chakraborty, spokesperson of Bengal Club, confirms that in addition to celebrating Bengal’s culture and tradition, this year we will also showcase our club’s core value of striving to create unity through sustained community services. Chakraborty further added that the highlights of this year’s puja will be:

(1) Puja will be inaugurated on the evening of October 3 by children of Balak Vihar School, a municipal school at Dadar. Bengal Club has taken the responsibility of providing free lunch to all the students of this school every Saturday in collaboration with ISCKON. Future plans are also being drawn up for organising medical camps and providing free school uniforms to the female students of the school. This initiative is a part of Bengal Club’s charity project called Sampoorna, which focuses on welfare of the girl child and women’s empowerment.

(2) Nitin Desai, the famous art director and production designer of Indian cinema has designed the pandal based on the theme of a grand Indian palace. Desai has previously designed the sets of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanaam, Devdas, Lagaan, Jodha Akbar, etc. 

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(3) Various cultural programs will be conducted through the day, encouraging both children and adults to showcase their talent at drawing, dancing, singing, etc.

(4) The evenings will have the added excitement of competitions like the popular and fiercely contested dhunuchi naach where devotees dance with earthen pots containing smouldering coal and dhoop along with blowing conches.

The hallmark of this puja is that it is not just highly revered by local bengalis for being one of the oldest and most traditional, but, is also a huge draw with the cosmopolitan neighbourhood, which participates in the festivities with equal spirited fervor.

As always, the main focus of the puja will be on elaborate and traditional religious rituals conducted through the morning and the grand evening arti at which dhakis (drummers) from Kolkata will lead the music. The intoxicating drumbeats will provide the setting for the club’s members to perform the dhunuchi dance, as a part of paying their obeisance to goddess Durga.

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Bengal Club is also one of the very few puja pandals in Mumbai to conduct Kumari Puja on Navami, where a girl child aged between 3-8 years is worshipped.  This year the 20,000 square feet pandal is senior citizen and disabled people friendly as well.

Along with keeping the  Bengal’s age-old tradition, the idols are made using eco-friendly materials, like mud and special water-soluble chemical-free paints. The bhog that will be served includes the delicious Bengali khichdi, labda (mix vegetables), beguni (brinjal pakoda) and payesh (Bengali style kheer).

Notably, The Bengal Club was constituted in 1922 as a non-profit organisation to promote charitable, cultural and sports activities. Till date, the club’s routine undertakings include organising sports activities throughout the year like coaching and conducting cricket and football tournaments, yoga and other physical fitness programmes. Bengal Club’s social activities include organising various health camps free of cost for the residents of Mumbai and participating in various initiatives to keep beachfront around Mahim clean. The club also makes donations to other similarly driven charity organisations in Mumbai. Bengal Club through its various cultural activities strives to ensure cultural, social and communal harmony.

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