PUNE: This might not be known to many, but along with residents of West Bengal, Maithils hailing from Mithila region in Bihar also celebrate Durga Puja in Pune at Vidyapati Mitra Mandal in Bhosari area.
Maithils are the inhabitants of Mithila which is known as the birthplace of Sita- Lord Rama’s wife. The erstwhile state of Mithila is spread in northern and eastern Bihar.
Sharing about keeping the traditional Durga Puja alive in Pune, Ashok Kumar Das, Secretary, Vidyapati Mitra Mandal, said, “The way Navratri is celebrated in Pune is different from puja performed in our hometown. Somehow, I couldn’t relate to it at a spiritual level. So I thought of starting Durga puja in the Maithali way. I followed the idea of making a home away from home and also to bring all the Maithils residing in the city under one roof. We started this community with just three people in the year 1999, and now thousands of people are a part of this community. Not just Maithils, even the local Maharashtrians and non-Maithils actively participate in this festival.”
Speaking about the challenges they faced, Ambika Gulab Yadav, President of the mandal, said, “I have been with this community from the very first day. Initially, we faced issues related to permissions and space for this puja. But, the locals supported us and they treated us as their family.” In the backdrop of the puja, the community offers free food to children from all communities.