Embracing the Divine Feast
As the goddess Durga prepares to descend from her heavenly abode in Kailash, Bengalis are eagerly anticipating their most-awaited festival of the year. Five days of unrestrained joy and indulgence in delectable delights await them. Bengalis worldwide are set to revel in the festivities, embracing the diverse and flavorful offerings that make Durga Puja truly a feast for the senses.
As the celestial goddess Durga prepares to descend from her heavenly abode in Kailash, Bengalis worldwide eagerly anticipate the arrival of their most-awaited festival – Durga Puja. Five days of unrestrained joy and indulgence in delectable delights await them, marking a significant moment of familial celebration.
Distinctive Culinary Traditions
Amidst the grand celebration, a subtle distinction in cuisine emerges between the people of “epaar bangla” and “opar bangla.” Sashti initiates particular culinary customs, steering clear of “anna bhog” in favor of puffed flatbreads and vegetarian delights dedicated to the goddess, enjoyed exclusively by the women in the family.
Saptami’s Gastronomic Freedom
Saptami lacks strict food rules, offering gastronomic freedom. However, Ashtami brings about a family-wide abstention from rice and rice-based dishes. On Navami, specific bonedi households engage in animal sacrifices, deviating from vegetarian meals to partake in non-vegetarian delights, often centered around mutton.
Puja Rituals and Culinary Fulfillment
Puja rituals find fulfillment with “bhog,” the sacred offering of food to the deity. Khichudi takes center stage on Navami, accompanied by labra, fries like beguni, and payesh, among other treats, made with aromatic gobindobhog rice and sona moong dal.
Unique Barir Pujo Traditions
Every “barir pujo” adheres to unique rules and rituals surrounding bhog. Some offer “anna bhog,” while others present vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes, prepared without onion or garlic. The Seal family in Kolkata, with an almost 200-year-old puja, opts for a pure vegetarian food offering during the ten days of Puja.
Diverse Bhog Rituals
Diverse families follow distinct bhog rituals. At the renowned Sabarna Roy Choudhury Durga Puja, the Maha Bhog boasts a splendid spread with ghee bhaat, basanti pulao, khichuri, deep-fried vegetables, traditional fish preparations, and an array of sweetmeats. The Sovabazar Rajbari, on the other hand, presents an extraordinary assortment of sweetmeats without anna bhog, crafted by Brahmin cooks.
Culinary Extravaganza at Sovabazar Rajbari
Remarkably, at Sovabazar Rajbari, there is no presentation of anna bhog. Instead, an extraordinary assortment of sweetmeats crafted by Brahmin cooks at the premises is served on expansive platters, featuring items such as mithey gaja, chauko gaja, pantua, peraki, katkati, shingara, nimki, radha ballavi, and the distinctive motichoor.
Essence of Durga Puja
In essence, Durga Puja represents a private and familial celebration, emphasizing the joyous reunion with the goddess Uma. This momentous occasion signifies the intent to lavish care on her during her brief stay, expressed eloquently through the diverse and unique culinary offerings made to Durga.
Familial Love Expressed Through Food
Each household boasts a set of distinctive dishes, tailor-made for the goddess, standing alongside the customary bhog offerings. These unique preparations symbolize the depth of familial love expressed through the art of food, creating an unforgettable culinary journey during the auspicious days of Durga Puja.