Festival for all: 31K Durga Puja pandals dot Muslim-dominated Bangladesh

Dhaka: Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, with Hindus forming just 8.5% of its population. However, Durga Puja is the second biggest religious festival of the country after Eid. More importantly, it is fast becoming a ‘sarbajanin’ (of all) festival.

236 Pandals in Dhaka

If you drive past any prominent road in Dhaka, you are bound to cross a Puja Pandal, with images of Durga or Kali. According to Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee, secretary of the Bangladesh Puja Committee, 31,272 Puja Pandals have come up in the entire country and 236 of them are in Dacca city alone.

“The biggest pandal in the country is in Bagherhat, where 701 idols of the goddess sit in one Pandal. For the past 8 years, the Pandal at Hakimpur village was enjoying this distinction,” Chatterjee said.

Celebrations are lavish in the Rajshahi district and in Chittagong. A lawyer living in Rajshahi town has donated a Durga idol made of ‘Ashtadhatu’ (eight metals), costing 22 lakh Takas to a temple.

Preparations for the event begin four or five months before the Durga Puja. Haripada Pal, who has been making Durga idols for more than two decades says, “I only give shape to my belief in her.”

(Story: Priyanka Chaudhary)