Durga Puja is not only considered as a religious festival but is widely touted as a festive season. The latter term is indeed a correct one as this is the time of the year when people eagerly go from the cities to their homes somewhere far away in order to spend some happy times with families, catch up with the good old childhood buddies, deck up in some choicest fineries that have been brought after much research and most importantly immerse themselves in the joyous spirit that magically comes alive vibrantly in the surroundings. The strong smell of the agarbattis, ecstatic beats of the Dhak, glorious brightness that spreads everywhere from the tiny diyas, pleasant smell from the colourful flowers, systematic chanting of the energetic mantras , uniform movement of hands that gives Anjali to the Goddess, noisy pushings for taking the Nirmali, urgent rushing of hands for taking the Charanamrit Prasad, relishing the Bhog at lunch, go for pandal hopping- these are the main ingredients that conjure up the festive spirit of Durga Puja. Be it young or old, everyone loves to follow the traditions wholeheartedly in Durga Puja and they try to capture the best memories of this five day gala affair with selfies, groupfies or any kind of photo sessions along with lots of gossips and of course by following the mandatory modern tradition of completing every celebration of tucking on a meal outside home.
Among the host of celebratory moments of Durga Puja, pandal hopping is the favourite of all people and nobody can stop themselves from stepping out of the house on the five festive days to see what kind of artistic creativity has come around across the pandals of the town. From the innovatively designed figures that adorns a corner of the street to the vibrant plus curiously shaped hues of lights to the design of the pandal along with the fine craftsmanship that went behind making the statues of Goddesses Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati, Lords Ganesha and Kartik, Mahisasura , The Lion, pandal hopping gives people some serious arts to observe and judge. However, the most important feature that seems to be a tad worrisome during pandal hopping is to stay safe among the throngs of masses.
Here are some important things to remember while going for pandal hopping in Durga Puja-
Take a water bottle with you
Although there are several shops where you can easily buy a water bottle while going for pandal hopping, it is the wisest idea to carry one with you in your bag. It may so happen that extreme thirstiness along with tiredness in a place devoid of shops may cause you to panic when there isn’t a single water bottle within your reach. Sometimes the high level of thirst along with the most uncomfortable hot weather can make us become so tired that it may take a toll on our health and we have to search for a bench longingly with our eyes so that we could sit and relax for a certain period of time. Unfortunately, if our level of thirstiness and tiredness reaches its peak at a totally deserted place, our dire necessity for a bottle of water may lead us to great difficulties in terms of health. Therefore, it is essential to take a large water bottle in your bag when going out to stroll among the pandals so that whenever the tendency of thirst lingers in our mouth, we can reach our savior for the rescue. Moreover, when the irritating pangs of thirst are low, the joy of judging the surroundings during pandal hopping becomes smooth and thereby we can reach ecstasy both spiritually as well as materially.
Travel together with your group patiently
When you reach the place where you have planned to do pandal hopping and alighted there from your vehicle, do ensure that all the members of the group are together within your line of sight and then proceed towards your destination. While walking towards the pandal that you have planned to visit, you will surely get enclosed somewhere from all sides in the middle of a huge crowd as not a single soul like to miss out the enthusiastic days of Durga Puja by staying away from pandal hopping. To keep your cool amidst a huge crowd of people, try to reach the destination i.e. the pandal by holding the hands of one of the members of your group so that you have atleast some company and can proceed with a sense of relief. If you are going for pandal hopping with a pack of 8-10 people, it is okay if you lost sight of some of them while managing yourselves amidst the chaotic crowd but you can ultimately meet up with your pals at the restaurant, fast food corner or in whichever place you had pre-decided before pandal hopping. Chaos, joy, wish, adventure are the perfect spicy ingredients that cook up the festive spirit of Durga Puja celebrations so you cannot stay away from it during this time of the year and have to go with the flow of this rush of festivity
Be extra cautious with kids
If you go pandal hopping with little kids this Durga Puja, it is certainly your responsibility to ensure that they are safely under your care. It is always a good idea to carry your kids in your arms if they are below 5 years. However, the tiny tots also want their share of fun in Durga Puja and they do not want to be left out of their childhood fun of walking by giving some jumps here and there. For this reason, you should always ensure that you hold the hands of your kids tightly while trying to find your way out of the crowd of pandal hopping revelers. One of the wisest ideas is to put a sheet of paper containing your names, address and phone numbers in the pocket of your child so that they can get help when they get lost somewhere unluckily. Meanwhile, it is quite essential to give a mobile phone to your child while going for pandal hopping because they can call you to let them know of their location whenever they had to get far away from you due to the rampant pushing of the crowd of pandal hoppers.
Take care of your personal belongings
One of the biggest responsibilities of every pandal hopper is to carry their personal belongings carefully with them so that they do not fall prey in the hands of pickpockets. As a pandal hopper, you should carry a bag with you so that you can keep your water bottle, mobile phone and wallet safely there with you. The pockets in your clothes are the soft and easy targets for pickpockets to steal and they take excellent advantage of the huge crowds to sneak their hands expertly in someone’s pocket and take away wallets or mobile phones. Moreover, if you cannot hold your mobile phones tightly within the grasp of your hands, pickpockets look for an opportunity to steal it from you and they may even succeed in doing so. Therefore it is always a wise decision to carry your personal belongings in your bag as it is the safest place that will totally be under your constant protection