Last Sunday, when actor Minissha Lamba returned to the Delhi stage after a two-year epidemic hiatus, it was her opportunity to immerse herself in the festive spirit of the nation’s capital. Thus, she travelled to one of the oldest Durga Puja pandals in Delhi, located on Minto Road, in order to seek the Goddess’s blessings in person. She could only describe her excursion as a “wonderful experience” as she immersed herself in the festivity of the pujo, amidst the many optimistic worshippers.
My first visit to a pandal in Delhi!
While she has participated in pandal hopping in Kolkata during a previous visit to the City of Joy, this was her first Durga Puja at the Nation’s Capital. “I had gone to Kolkata during Durga Puja and my friends had accompanied me to Durga Puja. This is my first visit to a pujo pandal in Delhi,” she adds, adding, “It’s so lovely to see the energy of the people, the positivity and happiness all around, and their desire for a better tomorrow; that’s what makes a pandal visit so rewarding. When people have a successful year, they come to express their appreciation. As a new beginning, there is always positive energy here… To me, every event is something that draws people together and brings them closer together. It’s a time for people to feel closer to God and to express gratitude to the Almighty for all the blessings,” says the Bollywood actor whose films include Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) and Yahaan (2005).
I pray for fortitude, resiliency, and appreciation.
Lamba prayed to Goddess Durga, requesting that she grant everyone the strength to endure the pandemic, and she added, “I pray for strength, resilience, and appreciation. For all that has already been bestowed upon me, and whatever our deities think fit to bless and bestow upon us. I respectfully accept that.”
‘I loveeeee puchkas’
In the spirit of Poo (Kareena Kapoor Khan’s character from the 2001 film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham), Lamba declares her love for puchkas (Bengali style gol-gappe) with the phrase, “I loooveee puchkas!” She also enjoyed a plate of sev puri amidst the throngs of enthusiastic believers, and when questioned about her favourite Bengali cuisine, she quickly added, “I also enjoy mishti doi. When I used to eat fish, I certainly enjoyed the Bengali-style fish, but now I am a vegetarian (smiles).”
My grandmother enjoyed teaching us mythology
She explored a number of shops in the pandal that sold anything from colourful home decor to jewellery. While examining a jhumka at a market stand, the performer is overcome by memories of her childhood spent listening to tales of good triumphing over evil. “Every day, my grandma would read the Guru Granth Sahib. She used to perform puja, as well as teach us about mythology and give us delightful stories. As children, we used to watch [Ramayana] on Doordarshan. And as a child, I would listen to her stories, but as we age, we begin to comprehend their subtle significance.”
Lamba’s spirit was unaffected by the crowds at the pandal, as she continued to walk without hesitation. When observing how at ease she is in busy areas in the post-Covid age, one feels tempted to question her about it. “After Covid, it was our first theatre performance in Delhi, and we were all extremely enthusiastic. Before coming here, we had rehearsed Hello Zindagi (the play) in Mumbai, and when I went into the stage, it was as if no time had passed. This is what I believe,” she says, staring at the statue of the Goddess as though in secret prayer to her to continue giving her strength.