It’s not that time of the year without noise, celebrations, festivities, laughter, new clothes, makeup, adda with friends and family and most importantly pandal hopping and gorging on Bengali delicacies. This is the time when Bengalis all over the world celebrate the biggest festival in a Bong’s calendar, Durga Puja.
For most Indians, Diwali is the biggest festival but for the Bongs, Diwali is ‘one of the festivals’ but definitely not the main. We have Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Saraswati Puja (which is often referred to as Bengali Valentine’s day), nabo barsho and then Diwali. However, for the diaspora Bongs Diwali is gradually climbing up the chart. Especially for the diaspora-second-generation.
I am often asked by my “Non-Bengali” friends that why do we eat so much non-vegetarian food during Durga Puja, while the rest of India fasts and almost goes vegan during Navratri. My brother’s wife who is Gujrati almost got a heart attack when she saw us eating a double egg chicken roll on Mahashtami night. It was scandalously blasphemous for her, a shock that she has not overcome even after eight years of being married to a Bong man.
The reply is simple- There are two reasons why we do that (and if you are a Bong who has been asked this question please next time refer to this). The first reason is that Durga is a form of Shakti, she is a warrior goddess who was specifically created to go to war and kill demons. She was assigned to do a task that male Gods were unable to accomplish. Can you really send someone to war after feeding them a vegan diet? Would she have been able to defeat Mahisashura had she fed on dhokla and idli? Seriously?? She had to be given a high protein keto diet that would give energy, stamina, and strengths to her muscles, therefore, we unapologetically feed our Goddess with high protein diet and as her ardent follower we also follow the same protein diet and thus all Durga Puja pandals smell of egg roll, fish cutlet, mutton biryani, prawn pakoras, and chicken kabiraji. YUMMMM!!!!!
The second colloquial reason is that we worship Durga as a daughter who comes to her baper bari or maika (parent’s home) after a year, along with her kids, pets, and Mahisashura (poor fellow lost one war and became a slave for the whole life, Trevor Noah would surely find an apartheid angle in this). Ideally, when a Bong girl comes home her mother doesn’t feed her vegetarian food, rather she is served the likes of bhaat, kosha mangsho, rui macher kalia, ilish bhapa, chingri malaikari, chitol macher muitha and some vegetarian dishes like aloo dum, posto, beguni etc are thrown as side dishes. Their role in the menu is almost similar to the role of Katrina Kaif in a Salman Khan movie. Any Bong mom would die of shame, guilt, and depression if she is not able to feed her daughter fish and chicken when she comes over. So, when our daughter Ma Durga comes how can we make her eat only vegetarian food. So all of us and our goddess eat non-vegetarian happily while naysayers keep holding their eyeballs from popping out.
I am all set for the puja. Are you?? May the festivities begin. Let good win over evil. Let Ma Durga fight the demons of climate change this year. Wishing all my readers a Happy Durga Puja and a Happy Navratri.
I received this tag from Shalini R at Kohl Eyed Me. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Apeksha Rao at ApekshaRao.com. There are 38 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 4, 5, 6 October 2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! Let us have a wonderful celebration of words during this festival season -because Words Matter!