The ten days of Durga Puja are a celebration of the Goddess Durga’s victory over the evil asura, Mahisasura, born with a boon that no man would be able to kill him. Like a lot mythological tales that are built on semantics, the triumvarate of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh created Goddess Durga, a woman with the powers of all 3. The lion riding goddess went on to kill Mahisasura in an epic 10 day battle. Durga Puja celebrates her victory and homecoming and this festival is celebrated with fervor all across Bengal with intricately hand crafted idols, pandals of mythic proportions, incense, dhak and of course amazing food.
Bengali food is loved far and wide for flavorful fish, succulent mutton dishes, and most of all, their delicious sweets. Even their vegetarian food is fragrant, delicious and oh so tempting. Of all the days of Durga Puja celebrations, Bengalis, only go vegetarian on Ashtami. And although the pandals all serve vegetarian bhog every day of the celebrations, the many food vendors around the main pandal serve delectable mutton curries, chicken biryanis and fish every day except on Ashtami. On Ashtami, Durga Puja menus serve flaky luchis and delicious accompaniments such as Aloo Dom, Cholar daal, Begun bhaja, and more. And on every other day, the fantastic spread includes Bengali favorites such as Prawn Malai Curry, Bhapa ilish, Kosha Mangsho, and Doi Machi.
We asked our friend Sukanya Bose, a Durga Pujo lover and Pandal Hopping expert for her top 5 things to do during Durga Pujo and also her favorite Pandals to visit in Calcutta as well as Bombay. She also shared her recipe for Doi Maach with us. Check it out here.
Durga Pujo: Top 5 things to do
1. Pandal hop (in Bombay – Lokhandwala Durgotsav, Powai and Vashi. In Calcutta – Durga Badi, Ekdalia, Mudiali)
2. Eat at the stalls
3. Eat bhog
4. Buy a Bengali handloom sari at the stalls (Kantha, Dhakai, Tangail saris)
5. Watch or participate in Boron, the joyful play of vermillion between the women folk.
And if you can’t make it to a pandal, enjoy some fantastic Bengali food at Calcutta Club.
Happy Durga Puja!