By Aparmita Das | SHILLONG:
Welcome to “The Meghalayan Photo Album,” a visual journey through the Durga Puja festival in Meghalaya, specifically in Shillong. This photo story brings together snapshots taken by various photographers cum contributors showcasing the beauty of the festival in its various aspects – from the divine idols and colourful pandals to the joyful people, delectable food, and the emotional immersion ceremony.
Local vendors selling puja flowers near Bharat Sevashram, Jail Road, in the city, on Saptami.
Idols at Sanatan Dharmasabha-Harisava radiate divinity and grace, captivating the hearts of all who visit.
At Polo, where uniqueness takes form in the divine presence of Goddess Durga amidst a mesmerising dark-themed setting
At Police Reserve, Quinton Road, the backdrop behind the idols resembles the mythical abode of Lord Shiva, Kailash.
The idols at Kench’s Trace Durga Puja Committee captivate with their bright, oversized eyes.
A priest performing the ‘Shondhi Pujo’ at Shella Rama Krishna Mission, invoking the divine presence with deep devotion and grace.
The idols at Keating Road are adorned in elegant white sarees with striking red borders, while Kartik stands resplendent in a regal golden attire
Rilbong’s Durga idol stands as a symbol of reverence, drawing devotees into a world of faith and spirituality.
One distinctive feature of the idols at Hatath Colony, is the striking Asura painted in vibrant green, reminiscent of the iconic character, the Hulk.
The idols at the Oakland Durga Puja Committee exude grace and spirituality.
The beautiful idols, at Laban Shiv Mandir, particularly the serene face of Goddess Durga, emanate a profound sense of divinity and grace.
Devotees unite in prayer, offering their heartfelt devotion to Goddess Durga at the Jail Road Puja pandal.
The idols at Laban Namghar are enhanced by a striking red and white backdrop.
The idol at the Municipality Puja, Jail Road, stands as a majestic embodiment of divinity.
A priest performs a solemn worship ceremony in reverence to Goddess Durga at Jagannath Temple.
Garikhana’s Marwari Puja Committee proudly displays grand and regal idols.
The idols at Greater Polo Hills Durga Puja Committee, stand adorned with distinctive white crowns and matching accessories, creating a striking and elegant visual statement
The Nepali Puja Committee’s Durga idol shines resplendently in a shade of gold, embodying timeless beauty and devotion.
Amidst the festivities of AC lane’s Durga Puja, the vibrant yellow backdrop adds a burst of colour, enhancing the celebratory spirit of the occasion.
Dhankheti’s Puja celebration exudes a cultural and spiritual richness.
At RR Colony, the magnificent idol draws devotees who are eager to capture its grandeur in photographs.
The Assam Kristi Kendra at Dhankheti presents a unique and culturally enriching Durga Puja experience.
Golden idols shine brightly at Mathura Compound.
Amidst a serene blue backdrop at Barapathar, the divine beauty of the idols shines through.
Small and cosy idols take centre stage at Forest Colony, lovingly worshipped by the dedicated all-women’s Durga Puja committee.
At the BSNL Puja Committee in RR Colony, a priest conducts the aarti.
The Motinagar Durga idol, draped in a saffron saree, exudes tranquility as she sits serenely.
In the intimate surroundings of Bharat Sevashram, Goddess Durga stands tall, surrounded by her divine children.
Rooprekha Durga Puja Committee: Celebrating a century of tradition and devotion. A priest presides over the serene ‘shondhi pujo’ while incense weaves a fragrant tapestry of spirituality.
Late SK Agarwal Memorial Drum Beat competition held at Rilbong Puja Pandal: In the individual category, Rilbong Durga Puja Committee bagged the 1st prize, followed by RR Colony Saradiya Utsav Committee winning the 2nd prize, and Kenchs’ Trace Durga Puja Committee winning the 3rd prize. Survey of India (SOI) Estate Durga Puja Committee won the 4th prize. In the group category, Rilbong Durga Puja Committee again bagged the 1st prize, followed by R.R.Colony Saradiya Utsav Samiti taking the 2nd place, and Kench’s Trace Durga Puja Committee the 3rd.
CWE Pandal’s exquisite decoration celebrating the divine presence of Goddess Durga.
At the Greater Polo Hills pandal, a kaleidoscope of colourful grandeur greets devotees as they enter to immerse in the festivities
The street comes alive as vibrant lights illuminate Kench’s Trace during the festive celebrations of Durga Puja.
On the auspicious day of Navami, the Hindu Mission pandal is abuzz with a vibrant crowd of devotees, marking the grand culmination of the Durga Puja celebrations.
At Narsing Akhara’s Durga Puja pandal, a stunning Chandrayaan-3 replica takes centre stage, commemorating the triumph of Indian scientists.
Laban Namghar glows with an enchanting display of lights, illuminating the surroundings as a part of the yearly Durga Puja celebrations.
The Nongpoh Ram Mandir is adorned with a replica of Chandrayan-3. With a history stretching back to its establishment in 1927, the Nongpoh Ram Mandir has been at the heart of Durga Puja festivities since 1944. This year’s celebration took a cosmic turn with enchanting decorations and exhibits that seamlessly blend divinity with the wonders of science, offering a glimpse of the cosmos to ignite the scientific curiosity of students from Ri Bhoi District
At Jail Road Puja pandal, a mesmerising display of tiny bells adorns the entire setup.
On October 20 night, the Mathura Compound Durga Puja Committee members achieved the remarkable feat of setting up and designing the Puja pandal in just 10 hours, as labourers left the project a day before Maha Saptami celebrations were scheduled to commence in Shillong.
Women in red-bordered sarees from Motinagar Durga puja committee, playing the drums with vibrant enthusiasm on Dashami, infuse the air with festive rhythm and energy.
The dhaakis, having filled the air with their beats, now take a moment to rest and recharge within the pandal.
People harmonise their voices in a melodious tribute to Goddess Durga during the Durga Puja celebration at Rama Krishna Mission, Shillong, accompanied by the soothing tones of the harmonium and tabla.
In the evening, the tradition of sharing prasad continues as devoted volunteers distribute blessings to the visitors
The dhaakis drumming with unbridled enthusiasm, infuse the atmosphere with an electrifying energy that resonates throughout the pandal.
A volunteer applying the sacred tika on a devotee’s forehead, symbolizing a time-honoured custom and spiritual connection.
Marking the conclusion of the grand celebrations of Durga Puja, the day began with an air of anticipation as devotees were preparing for the sacred immersion ceremony. The morning’s festivities began with the cherished tradition of “Shidur Khela”, where married women apply vermillion powder on each other while fervently praying for the long life, well-being and prosperity of their husbands and family.
Shidur Khela at Shella Rama Krishna Mission: Women participate in the traditional ritual of applying vermillion to the idol of Goddess Durga.
“Shidur Khela”, where married women apply vermillion powder on each other while fervently praying for the long life, well-being and prosperity of their husbands and family. Location: Oakland
Devotees gather in reverence, forming a line before Goddess Durga, offering flowers and vermillion as a final gesture of devotion before bidding her farewell for the year.
Young child prays to Goddess Durga, guided by wisdom
The sacred immersion ceremony of the festival, Durga Puja, took place at Polo Immersion Ghat in Shillong on October 24, complete with intricate religious ceremonies.
Various Durga Puja organising committees escorted their respective idols to the ghat for the symbolic immersion, with jubilant crowds dancing and singing to the resounding rhythms of festival drums.
The scenes captured at the immersion ghat were a visual delight, attracting a vast congregation of hundreds who came to witness the Goddess’s farewell journey as she gracefully descended into the sacred waters, destined to return next year.
Here’s a glimpse of the visuals captured at the site.
During the Bishorjon (immersion) hours at Shella River, devotees bid farewell to Goddess Durga with heartfelt prayers.
Devotees come together in a poignant moment, immersing the idol of Goddess Durga in the waters of Polo Immersion Ghat
Donned in saffron t-shirts, the dedicated committee members of Rama Krishna Mission, Laitumkhrah, come together in prayer following the heartfelt immersion of the idols.
After a joyous three-day Durga Puja celebration, devotees lovingly lower the idols for their final immersion at the Polo immersion ghat.
At Polo Immersion Ghat, the radiant grace of Goddess Durga shines brightly.
As the idol of Goddess Durga immerses in water, she gazes upon her devoted children, a symbol of trust and cooperation between the divine and believers.
En route to her final journey for immersion, the serene idol of Goddess Durga is poised in a truck.
In a saffron-clad saree and a serene countenance, the unique idol of Goddess Durga from Motinagar Durga Puja Committee gently submerges in water.
As the moment of Durga Bishorjon approaches at Shella River, the air is filled with the collective chant of Lord Ram’s name, a powerful and spiritual farewell to Goddess Durga.
As we conclude our visual exploration of Durga Puja in Meghalaya, we hope these photographs have conveyed the essence of this vibrant festival. The beauty of the idols, the creativity in pandal designs, the spirit of the people, the flavours of the food, and the poignant immersion ritual all come together to make Durga Puja in Meghalaya a truly unforgettable celebration. We invite you to enjoy these images and immerse yourself in the festive spirit of Shillong.
(These photos have been generously contributed by Adity Choudhury, Anirban Paul, Shiv Shankar Rai, Anisha Yadav, Sannio, Abhinandan Deb, and Avantika Sharma exclusively for The Meghalayan. Please refrain from using these images without prior permission)