Durga Puja 2013 Timtable and Kalakand in Microwave

Subho Shashthi

Durga puja has already started. As Bengal gets decked up with all the pandals and the puja shopping almost come to an end, I on the other hand, living thousands of miles away is waiting for this weekend to arrive. The Durga puja in the US is held during weekends just for the convenience of the attendees.

While I miss on my dose of the Kolkata Durga pooja fever, I’m getting ready to celebrate the US style Durga puja. I will definitely miss the phuchka, alu kabli, churmur, ghugni – oh I cant stop writing the list of road side food that I’ll be missing on this puja – but would have a new taste, a new experience of celebrating puja just over the weekend.

The street food on Kolkata adds an added charm to the whole flavor of Durga puja, but there is always the home cooked prasad. Though my family strictly becomes vegetarian during the four days of puja, mainly because of the fact we have our own durga idol at home, and she has been worshiped in the family for more than a century now. And, as Ma Durga is bid adieu, the next day, ekdashi is the day to eat fish and only fish. The entire family with brothers, sisters, cousins, their spouses, their kids – you know how the Indian family tree is – eats, sitting on the floor. Last year I was heading the frying department of the lunch, mostly because my mom felt her daughter is old enough to get married so she is old enough to cook for hundred people, or at least the dal and bhaja part. So, my task for last ekdashi was to make loitta macher vada for the entire family. It was intimidating, it was tiring, yet there was a satisfaction seeing everybody asking for more.

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A bengali’s take on Ganesh Chaturthi

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[This is a Ganesh Chaturthi post. If you’re just interested in the Narkel Nadu recipe, please wait for another day.]

How a Bengali celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganpati Bappa

Ganpati Bappa

Globalisation has had an unlikely effect – Festival in Bengal. When I was a kid the only visible aspect about Ganesh Chaturthi in Kolkata (Calcutta then) was the telecast of the immersion ceremony of the huge Ganesh idols in Mumbai (Bombay then). We didn’t even know when is Ganesh Chaturthi unless we saw the holiday calendar. But, now even we Bongs have started worshipping Ganapati Bappa on Ganesh Chaturthi (also called, Ganesha Chaturthi, Vinayaka Chaturthi). Take my home, for instance. Since morning mom has been decorating the house. She painted miniature  alpona at the door step (Alpona is an oriental style of painting motifs on floors during any ceremonies, usually done using rice flour mixed dissolved in water).  There wasn’t any Ganesh Chaturthi katha or vrat though (I guess there would be, but a couple of years later. Here’s a link on how a FM channel in North Bengal is celebrating the festival). I had my part in the ceremony too. Prepared some Narkel narus (coconut-sugar balls) and went to college. But by the time I was back, my sister had finished off half of it and mom had distributed almost the rest among our neighbors, leaving me with just a couple of my favorite nadu.

Ganesha – created and beheaded

I wasn’t much aware of what actually Ganesh Chaturthi is. So, while writing for this post just thought of sharing the info I gained from mom and the internet. Ganesh Chaturthi is said to be the day when Lord Ganesh comes down to earth to bestow his blessings on his devotees. Ganesh or the Lord of Ganas is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. While Lord Shiva was away, Parvati thought of creating a son to guard her. Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door and instructed him not to let anyone enter. In the meantime, Lord Shiva returned from the battle but as Ganesha did not know him, stopped Shiva from entering Parvati’s chamber. Shiva, enraged by Ganesh’s impudence, drew his trident and cut off Ganesha’s head. Parvati emerged to find Ganesha decapitated and flew into a rage. She took on the form of the Goddess Kali and threatened destruction to the three worlds of HeavenEarth and the subterranean earth.

Ganesh Puja Prasad

Ganesh Puja Prasad

Parvati’s rage

Parvati was enraged beyond control. Seeing her in this mood, the other Gods were afraid and Shiva, in an attempt to pacify Parvati, sent out his ganas, or hordes, to find a child whose mother is facing another direction in negligence, cut off his head and bring it quickly. The first living thing they came across was an elephant. That elephant was facing north (the auspicious direction associated with wisdom). So they brought the head of this elephant and Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati’s son and breathed life into him. Parvati was overjoyed and embraced her son, the elephant-headed boy whom Shiva named Ganesha, the lord of his ganas. Parvati was still upset so Lord Shiva announced that everyone who worships Ganesha before any other form of God is favoured. So Ganesh is worshipped first in all Hindu occasions and festivals.

Enlightment

Enlightment

Ganesha has become the symbol of Hinduism these days. Various styles, postures of Ganesha are openly sold in the market. People these days have started a new hobby collecting Ganesh idols, and my mom is one of them. At present she has a collection of odd 60 idols at our home. These are of different postures, sizes and made of various materials from plaster of Paris to 8 metal alloys and from terracotta to ivory. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi. And please come back tomorrow for the Narkel Nadu recipe.

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