This year, city youths have come up with new and innovative ways of celebrating the festival of lights — from free ‘Diwali bazaar walks’ by heritage tourism companies to ‘Diwali rides’, where participants walk through streets dressed in traditional Maharashtrian attires — residents have a lot to do during the upcoming long weekend. Kalyani Nagar resident Amruta Gadre-Kelkar, who participated in one of the ‘bazaar walks’ through the old city area on Tuesday, said shopping, food and photo ops were the highlights. “I hadn’t gone to Pune Mandai in a really long time and the traditional Maharashtrian fare — quila (fort), statutes of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, kandils (lanterns) — are not easily available in cosmopolitan areas like Kalyani Nagar. Besides, the feel one gets in old areas during festive seasons is unparalleled,” she said.
Jayesh Paranjape, the founder of the Western Routes, introduced free ‘bazaar walks’ in the city. The walk required participants to meet at Mandai Market walk through nearby areas, in a partially guided tour. “This year, about eight people joined the walk, most of whom were local residents. We start from Mandai, which is buzzing with activities — small vendors selling everything, from kandils to diyas. The visuals are so spectacular, with quilas, statues, rangolis making up the spectrum. We also enjoyed local delicacies, including misal and sugarcane juice,” he said.
For biking enthusiasts, who don’t mind dressing up, there is ‘Diwali Pahat Ride with Pride’, which will start on Thursday at 6 am. Host Tejas Mahale said they have received over 50 registrations so far. “For us, this is a celebration of culture in a city steeped in culture, tradition and legends. Participants will be riding wearing dhotis and sherwanis, kashta and nauvari sarees, while sporting pagdis and phetas. It is a ride to celebrate our heritage,” he said.
As per the rules of the rides, women can ride both on mopeds and motorbikes, while for men, only bikes will be allowed. Mahale said, “Women can wear nauvaris and kashta sarees or Bengali and Gujarati attires, while men can wear sherwanis, kurtas and dhotis. Pheta, Puneri pagdi, mawala pagdi can be arranged at the venue free of cost. It’s just a different way of showing how we take pride in our tradition.”