Durga Puja 2019

2019 has been such a tremendous puja year! Dhaka was literally a city of festivals during the entire puja week. Grand pandals, lights adorning the streets, the sound of dhaak and temple bells, the smell of incense in the air. We kind of didn’t want Durga to go away this year. আসছে বছর আবার হবে! শারদীয় শুভেচ্ছা সবাইকে।

5 Puja Mandaps in Dhaka that you must visit this year

Before I start off, Sharodiyo Shubheccha to everyone reading this. I am overjoyed because Durga Puja started with weekends this year and so, more time for us to enjoy!

If you’re a resident of Dhaka and are interested to visit some of the mandaps that are extravagantly beautiful and cater (literally) to everybody who walks in, constantly offering you elements of entertainment till Dashami, then you must visit these 5 mandaps without a second thought! 

Gulshan-Banani Puja Mandap 

Located at the heart of Banani, Gulshan-Banani puja mandap always steals the show when it comes to being extra festive. And this year, they have gone one extra mile to illuminate the streets starting from Gulshan 2 signal point and ending at Kakoli. The entrance of this mandap will definitely mesmerize you at night because they have probably used all the bright colours in the world to decorate. The decoration of the pandal, colourful lights, dedicated security guards at the entrance, everything is top-notch, like every year.

The Durga Murti, as beautiful and divine as ever will surely warm your heart. Also, instagrammable pandal corners? Checked. Fuchka stalls? Checked. Just visit already! 

Baridhara DOHS Puja Mandap 

Now, this puja mandap is new in the game and is already stealing hearts with heartwarming hospitality, entertaining cultural events, gorgeous decorations and delicious food! That too, available for anybody who visits.

Organized by the Baridhara DOHS Puja committee members, it is slowly gaining popularity among the other puja mandaps nearby.

The separating factor for this puja mandap is that the crowd is relatively less and it takes place in the Baridhara DOHS convention centre. Even then, this puja mandap is open for all and welcomes anybody who wishes to visit and have some gorom gorom khichuri-labra-begun bhaji before leaving. 

Kalabagan Puja Mandap 

Kalabagan Puja Mandap is one of the biggest mandaps in Dhaka. Celebrated at the Kalabagan Field Ground, every year it creates hype with effortlessly beautiful mandap decoration, themed Durga Murti and folk artist enriched cultural events.

This Puja mandap never fails to amaze visitors and the effort that’s put behind making all of it possible shows in every corner of the mandap. This is one of the puja mandaps that becomes more crowded by the night and after midnight, it becomes more alive than ever. 

Khamarbari Puja Mandap 

For those of you wondering where Khamarbari Puja Mandap is, it is at the heart of Farmgate. Located just beside KIB complex (Krishibid Institution of Bangladesh), Khamarbari Puja Mandap has an eye-catching LED entrance gate that will be seen even from the farthest corner of the road. The mandap itself is massive and the entire street is illuminated with lights that make the roads glow at night.

This mandap is not your regular puja mandap, its decorations are unique and it does not have only one Durga Murti inside the pandal. Every year it follows a certain theme and the entire pandal is decorated according to that. Make sure you have your phone battery full because you might have to take a lot of photos here! 

Dhakeshwari Puja Mandap 

Dhakeshwari Puja Mandap is one of the oldest and biggest puja mandaps in Dhaka. The temple was originally built in the 12th century by King Ballal Sen of the Sena dynasty. Dhakeshwari puja mandap gives you more than just Puja celebration. It gives you the feeling of belonging to the cultures of time as old as 800 years. It takes place inside the Dhakeshwari temple and caters to everyone who visits.

The best part of this puja mandap is that elements of Bangla fair (Mela) are seen around the mandap. Muri murki, Naru-Mowa, Fuchka, Kulfi, Glass bangles, everything that may make you nostalgic or fascinated is available around this mandap. If you’re planning to visit Dhakeshwari at night, drop by anytime because this mandap is always full of people, colours, happiness and food! 

With Dhaka celebrating Durga Puja with more colours and lights this year, take the time to not miss out on this heartwarming occasion and be a part of the festivities that gives you an opportunity to celebrate diversity, charity and happiness! 

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Types of people you see during puja

It’s that time of the year again when you will have to go through your closet to find sarees and panjabis that shoutout “Amit Ray” and “Labannya” from “Shesher Kobita”. Yes! It’s time for this year’s Durga Puja and all the festivities it brings along with it. During these festivities, it is hard not to jump into the celebrations like everyone else. Any event or occasion in Bangladesh is as hectic as they come, and you will meet a wide spectrum of peoples in these five days. Somehow we all have a particular role to play. So, here are the handful of the different types of people you will probably bump into this puja. So which one of the following types will you fall under?

The ultimate mandap hoppers

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

If you live in Dhaka there are a host of options for you to choose from for your puja hopping adventures. Almost every neighbourhood has little their mandaps set up for the occasion. However, there will be some who won’t be satisfied by going to just one or two mandaps. They will not leave out a single puja mandaps in the vicinity. From Jagannath Hall to Dhakeshwari Temple to Banani to God knows where they will be there battling through Dhaka’s traffic. Where do they get the energy?

The social media fanatics

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

These are the bunch who dedicate their lives to social media. You will see them in the perfect puja attire going to fancy restaurants with the best offers for this holiday. Also, they will not leave out any of the typical puja rituals either. From dressing up like Aishwarya Ray in Devdas to ringing the puja bell to playing with siddur, you name it. They will have done it all as you can see from their Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. And don’t forget the hashtags #shoptomi, #oshtomi, #nobomi, #doshomi, #PostPujaShenanigans.

The unfortunate hosts

In every circle, there will be one or two unfortunate beings whose homes become the ideal spot for post puja hopping hangouts. Your close one or two Hindu friends will be there as your saviour and accommodate you after a long day of hopping around. They will have to feed all the hungry ones that end up in their doorsteps while also managing to juggle their ongoing family responsibilities as well. But can you really blame us? Luchis are love, luchis are life.

The ones that are never there

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

AKA the getaway groups. These are the individual who always either makes plans or are the most hyped about it. But when it comes to actually appearing they somehow always manage to go out on quick one or two-day getaways out of town. Because no matter what you plan on puja it cannot measure up to their special getaways. Plus they somehow always have the perfect excuse that ends up saving their sorry asses. I must say these people are the smartest and are the ones winning at life.

And last but not the least, the people who never get any puja vacation

Durga Puja-HiFi Public

These are the guys who belong to the institutions (ahem ahem, private medicals students) or workplaces in which they never give any vacation during puja. They are the saddest bunch. They will have to work hard all day and after getting home will have to tolerate the social media fanatics online. If you are one of them take my advice and avoid social media for a few days.

So here’s to all the different type of people we will be meeting during this puja season and শারদীয় শুভেচ্ছা ও ভালোবাসা.

To Eid or not to Eid?

By the time you’re reading this, the suspense regarding moon sighting last night should not be a news of surprise to anyone. The National Moon Sighting Committee (whatever their purpose may be) has literally one job to do and people who celebrate Eid cannot trust them to do even that one right. That brings us to question the entire stunt of moon sighting. How did it come to be? How logical are the old methods and what do science and common sense say? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What is a new moon?

Not a Twilight movie. A new moon is a common astronomical phenomenon that takes place periodically in a process known as the moon cycle. A new moon occurs, after a complete cycle, when the surface of the moon facing the earth is completely away from the sun so that no sunlight reflects off it. This phase, logically, is not visible.

Credit: Dr. Phil Sutton’s Blog

The start of a new lunar month begins when the first light from the crescent moon is observed. This happens 11-15 hours after the new moon. This is our cherished “Eid moon” and our centre of all the circus.   

Do different places on earth observe different phases of the moon?

A common misconception, but no. Of course, because our earth is spherical, the crescent moon cannot be observed from everywhere on earth. The lunar phases occur at the same time no matter where you are. The only issue, naturally, is of the visibility.

From the parts where it will be visible, the same phase will be visible to all.

Our reluctance to scientific methods and common sense

In the past, a naked eye sighting of the moon marked the beginning of Shawwal and Eid day. The religion wasn’t spread worldwide like today and it was fairly easy to keep track of things for a comparatively smaller community. Modes of communication between faraway communities were extremely limited and each community relied on their own sighting to mark Eid day.

We no longer need to rely on our eyes to know the moon cycle. Thanks to the modern apparatus of science, we know how the moon cycle works and when the new moon will come up. So what bars the Islamic scholars from following this simple, harmless calculation?

If the crescent moon is sighted from any corner of the world, that means the month of Shawwal has begun.

It is pointless to keep trying to observe the crescent moon with a naked eye from a position of futile observation. It’s time the committee adopts a global means of moon sighting that almost every other Eid celebrating countries follow. It is 2019 and the future is now. Let’s not shy away from it.

Now that we’re in the clear, Eid Mubarak to those who’re celebrating. Those who are not, happy holidays!