<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Durga Puja is always special for Bengalis, and a day before the festival ends the fervour has reached the peak in Ahmedabad. The Bongs are busy pandal hopping, feasting and having a good time with family and friends.At the Durga pandal at Ahmedabad Education Society Ground, the ashtami celebrations started with Pushpanjali at around 9:00 am, followed by Bhog Prasad in the afternoon. The evening witnessed prayers in presence of thousands of people, which was followed by a cultural programme and more celebrations.”We call ourself Pravasi Bengalis, people who are living outside Bengal. We have made the city our hometown in spirit. The celebration is equally enjoyed by people of all communities. We believe Maa has come to her maternal home with her four kids . We meet and greet each other,” said Sonali Banerjee, a member of Ahmedabad Kalibari Durgapuja.A number of Bengalis had observed ashtami Uposh (fast) before the Pushpanjali – flower offerings to the Goddess. The ladies dressed in vibrant colours with bindis hopped into different pandals, while believers were silently praying. Besides the rituals and pujas, food is another attraction during the puja. The Bhog consisted of khichdi with sabzi.Professor Shankar Ghosh, vice principal of Somaiya College said, “Durga Puja is the largest socio-cultural religious event for Bengalis in the city, the best time for friends and family to get together. Any festival which any community celebrates, one shouldn’t feel it is just prayers which we offer. One should always visit places where prayers are offered as it has a positive vibration.” Kuntalica Basu, who was dressed in a beautiful traditional Bengali saree, said, “Durga puja is our love, our pride, our happiness. It is an extension of our identities.”At the venue, various stalls were set up, including one set by BM Institute of Mental Health, for vocational rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. There were also stalls of handicrafts and other open art exhibition stalls. It was a heavenly time for lovers, both literal as well as lovers of art, food or beauty in general.

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City comes alive as Ahmedabad Bangalis soak in ashtami spirits