Photo Essay | Pilgrimages in your city

Navratri is nine nights of endless festivities: Nine nights of vrat in the northern parts of India — of renouncing gluttony to introspect— that end with destroying the evil inside you, an act symbolised by the Ram within you setting ablaze a toy Ravana; nine nights of garba in Gujarat where whole cities come together in dancing, swaying unison; and in Bengal, nine nights, each dedicated to remembering the many goddesses that embody a power (of wealth, of wisdom, and of ceaseless energy) in every one of us.

In Delhi, where there's a confluence of all these things, we focus on the food and firecrackers over any introspection. If Ramlila Maidan's Ravana burning is Vijaya Dashami's one night affair,  Chittaranjan Park, the city's Bengali pocket makes up for all the vrat abstinence with grand goddesses in its many pandals watching over the never ending lanes of street side food: from mutton and chicken biryanis, to the famed Kolkata puchkas (Delhi's gol guppey still win, for me).

Scenes from Pujo, 2016. 

   Earlier, arms were raised and joined in eternal surrender to the almighty. Today, we raise our ‘fiery’ Samsungs to capture some of the divine.

Earlier, arms were raised and joined in eternal surrender to the almighty. Today, we raise our ‘fiery’ Samsungs to capture some of the divine.

  Aviators— not to shield you from the light of the lord, but your own cool quotient

Aviators— not to shield you from the light of the lord, but your own cool quotient

  The goddess has vanquished  Mahishasur,  but the red-horned fan seller poses a little problem: to buy or not to buy yet another fan?

The goddess has vanquished Mahishasur, but the red-horned fan seller poses a little problem: to buy or not to buy yet another fan?

  Mischief managed.

Mischief managed.

  Ring side seats to the goddesses. 

Ring side seats to the goddesses. 

  And the last leg of the CR Park pilgrimage is a pilgrimage unto itself. Even tiny babies are allowed to brave spicy street food today. Brownie points if you can spot the guilty mom!

And the last leg of the CR Park pilgrimage is a pilgrimage unto itself. Even tiny babies are allowed to brave spicy street food today. Brownie points if you can spot the guilty mom!

Photos and text by Vangmayi