Pandal hopping during Durga Puja festival is an emotional affair that could not be missed for the world. Although most of us have to remain busy during the five days of the festival due to the office or business workload, it does not deter us from taking a much-needed break for going pandal hopping for about two to three hours in the late evenings just to soak in the festive, lively, colourful and cheerful ambience that spells its magic everywhere. From WhatsApping or calling our friends / cousins to meet at a particular place and planning about the pandals to be visited beforehand to decking up in fancy attires just to roam in a festive spirit across the streets and judge like a knowledgeable person about each decorative artwork that is present in a venue, the stories of pandal hopping sessions are always eventful and memorable.
Some of the things that makes pandal hopping sessions a fun-filled and emotional way to create sweet memories for lifetime-
A chance of catching up with old pals
Unlike the endless list of festivals that makes up an Indian calendar, Durga Puja gives a golden chance for best friends to catch up with each other or an opportunity for the closest cousins to plan a fun reunion together. Moreover, it also provides the family to get to spend some lovely time with each other along with some of the dearest relatives. Just days before the Mother Goddess arrives at her abode on Earth, friends or cousins makes WhatsApp groups together to discuss about the types of outfits that are in fashion and which to wear on the festive days along with the list of restaurants or food joints where the mandatory ritual of eating outside should be followed. No one forgets to talk about the pandals they are going to be visiting during the five festive days. Meanwhile, there are groups who just decides to meet casually without any plans and roam any pandal they could find in their midst while gossiping about the latest events or reminiscing about old memories. From the detailed discussions of decorations of a pandal to the taste of the food they had just consumed, the face-to-face chats between dear ones in a pandal hopping session never seems to end.
Unique opportunity to show formal styles to the world
The pandal hopping session of a Durga Puja provides you with a unique time to showcase your choice of styles to everyone in the streets unlike a marriage ceremony where your way of amping up your fashion game is get to witness only by some known faces. For this reason, no one leaves the idea of shopping for new outfits or accessories prior to Durga Puja and everyone, no matter even if they themselves claim to be extremely broke, ensures to buy their self-proclaimed best things to look their best in the festival. The preparation time before going out for pandal hopping is also the time when moods can tend to be in the worst phases. Complains, or rather rants of regret, like dresses are of poor quality, high level mismatch of clothes and accessories, pining over the makeup also fills up a room for around half an hour. However, no kind of sad mood can cause anyone to cancel a much-awaited pandal hopping session. Therefore, everyone always goes out looking their festive best for the pandal hopping which is one of the fanciest and most lovable traditions of Durga Puja
Become a judge for a day
As visiting pandals is the prime aspect of a pandal hopping session, no one can leave aside their turns of being judges and make their self-proclaimed decisions over the beauty of each pandal. From discussing about the quality of lighting used and watching with a minute eye about the interior decor details of a pandal to analyzing the craftsmanship of the idols of Ma Durga, Ma Lakshmi, Ma Sarawati, Lord Kartik and Lord Ganesha along with Mahisasur and the lion, the judgement giving ceremony of a pandal hopping session is fun and goes on endlessly for days. Meanwhile, some of the funny usual events that occur at a pandal during evenings are the incessant pushing of crowds that mostly seem to form when some of the awestruck revelers never finishes to satisfy their gaze over the stunning artworks and keeps on looking absentmindedly at a particular artistic spot.
Go on a food tour
The best thing about pandal hopping is that one can get to eat several food items in a particular street location as temporary food stalls seems to sprung up in endless numbers selling delicacies of spicy delights to sinful sweets. By the time a pandal hopping session gets over, it is a fact that our stomach feels filling up to a good measure due to the samosas, phuchkas, jalebis and ice-creams we had gorged on a while ago. As the long distance roaming in the name of pandal hopping makes us feel greatly tired, the urge for cooking dinner after going home seems like a heavy burden. Therefore, a pandal hopping dinner generally ends up with a group going to a restaurant and tucking on a hearty fare there before saying the goodbyes to each other and making way towards the homes.
Enjoy some energetic music and dance
In India, music and dance are the two essential festive ingredients of a festival. Pandal hopping is a perfect time for people to enjoy music and dance which is not only fun but offers a kind of spiritual ectasy to the soul. With the energetically loud beats of a Dhak magically pulling crowds, it is also a visual delight for the people to experience the rhythmic way in which a priest or the dancers moves the burning clay stands (Dhunuchi) and dance gracefully in the praise of the Mother Goddess. Apart from the sound of the Dhak making the whole ambience of a pandal lively and the dance providing a source of joy, it is the uniform way in which the smoke rises upwards from the clay stands that gives a kind of ethereal or heavenly vibe to the venue. The awestruck faces of everyone in the crowd when they are watching the evening arati cannot be missed by observing people.
Take awesome groupfies for the Gram
As Durga Puja is a time when pandals gets decked up colourfully, taking some memorable groupfies with weird poses in any artistic spot would enable closed ones to create awesome memories for the future. Of course, it would also make a great picture to be posted on Instagram and get more likes and comments. Meanwhile, if the gallery section of your mobile phone is suffering from an acute shortage of good photos and makes you cringe about the absence of nice pictures to be posted on social media, pandal hopping is the perfect time to tell the photographer of your group to take some wonderful shots of yours so that you can decorate your social media feed with picture perfect snaphsots in the future.
Stock up on some unique toys for getting the Puja vibes
The crowds of little children thronging the makeshift stalls where vast types of plastic toys are sold like hot cakes during Durga Puja would make us reminiscent of our own childhood days when we used to hanker for those items that were touted as a source of pleasure of our yesteryears. Although we now have to spend our money to buy toy guns, trumpets, plastic balls, plastic maces, plastic aeroplanes or such kinds of tiny pleasures for our kids, it would not be a matter of childlishness if we buy some favourite items due to which we would be eagerly waiting for Durga Puja as a child and thereby take a trip down memory lane.