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Back home, goddess & stars

Keep your eyes wide open while pandal-hopping. Neetu Chandra or Shekhar Suman could be at a handshaking distance. B-town celebrities have started returning home for the festival like the goddess and her children.

The four-day festival begins on Sunday but Neetu is already in town. She was planning on Friday which pandals to visit, what food to try out and what clothes to wear. “I am very excited to be back home to celebrate Durga Puja with my family,” she said.

Neetu added: “I plan to go to all the famous pandals. I have been visiting Dakbungalow Chowk since childhood and shall definitely go there this time. I shall also go to the pandals in the Boring Road and East Boring Canal Road areas.”

Neetu, who usually sports western attire, would switch to ethnic wear for the festival. “During Durga Puja, I shall only be wearing traditional clothes. I love wearing saris, especially the designer ones,” she said.

No festive plan is complete without food. Neetu said she would try out roadside snacks like chaat, bhelpuri, batata puri and samosas. “It is the real taste of Bihar cuisine and I love it,” she added.

Bihar’s most famous export to Bollywood, Shatrughan Sinha, would also come to Patna on Sunday but unaccompanied by daughter Sonakshi. The Dabangg leading lady would celebrate the festival with her mother, Poonam Sinha, in Mumbai.

Asked about his plans, Sinha said: “Every year, I visit Darbhanga House Kali Temple on Ashok Rajpath during Durga Puja. I shall do so this year as well.”

He shall, however, not go pandal-hopping. “A large number of people throng the pandals and if I go there, there could be administrative problems,” said Sinha.

But he has plans aplenty to have fun. “We have vegetarian food during puja but a lot of friends come to our home in Mumbai and Patna. I love celebrating the festival with my friends and family.”

Television celebrity Shekhar Suman also plans to come home. “I’m coming home to take the blessings of my mother,” he said.

Homecoming is not the only trend this Puja. Many stars would go out.

Ravi Kissen would go to Calcutta to celebrate the festival this year. “I shall reach Calcutta tomorrow (Saturday). I plan to visit Kumartuli, the famous area in north Calcutta where artisans make the idols. I want to see the famous sindoor khela, where women smear vermilion on each other on the last day of the festival (Dussehra day). I shall also visit the famous Kalighat temple (in south Calcutta). I want to enjoy the Bengali flavour of the festival.”

Manoj Tiwari has also planned a busy Durga Puja. “I shall be performing in Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Ara and Kaimur. It will be a lot of fun as I shall get to see different kinds of puja.”

Television actress from Bihar Ratan Rajput said she would be in Mumbai during the festival.