Hyderabad: From two or three big pandals across the twin cities during Durga Puja a couple of years ago, this year there were at least eight major pandals and at least a 1,000 colony and small-scale pandals across the city.
“I am not a Bengali. It is just that there are many Bengalis in the area I live in and we all decided to put up a pandal in our lane. It was just a simple, small affair,” said J. Ramesh, a taxi-driver who lives in Lingampally.
Dr Pragya Rashmi, consultant psychologist at Yashoda Hospital, described more clearly, “A person might not be religious, might not observe abstinence during puja and still enjoy Durga Puja. It is a celebration of life in general.”
However, it is not just the number of pandals, which has increased in the city, but also the scale of the celebrations.
Budget constraints and limited resources are two reasons why Kolkata’s Durga Puja pandals are grander than local ones.
Selfie with idol: A file photo of young girls taking a selfie with the idol in the city during the Durga puja festivities.
But with corporates and in some cases local politicos funding, the scene is changing in Hyderabad as well. The celebrations are becoming more and more like Kolkata.
Function halls are booked, cultural activities held, Bollywood songs stream through loudspeakers and are not frowned upon anymore.
“When I was in Kolkata, I used to visit several pandals on the same day, which can be called the pandal-hopping culture of the city. Unlike that, people in Hyderabad usually spend the whole night at one puja pandal. The organisers have to keep the audience entertained,” said Krishnendu Roy, working for a software firm and organiser of Utsab Cultural Association.
But there are a few who still prefer the old ways. “I prefer going back to the village and enjoying the charm and the warmth of the festival there,” said Dr Pragya....