Bhopal: For Bengalis, Durga Puja is a time for pet-puja and organising cultural activities, besides offering Puspanjali to the idol of Goddess Mahamaya.
Bengalis well-known across the world for culinary art delight in delicious dishes on this occasion. Without mouth-watering dishes and cultural events, the festival remains incomplete. This is the reason why stalls selling lip-smacking food stuff are installed outside various Puja Pandals every year.
Outside TT Nagar Kali Badi, too, food stalls are set up, so that the people may get the tang of Bengali culinary art.
For the past two years, however, the food stalls are not being installed there because of the corona pandemic.
There was only one food stall this year; that too was selling only Idli and Dosa. So many Bengalis looked disappointed.
Cultural activities were also not held at the Kali Badi to keep Covid-19 at bay.
In TT Nagar Kali Badi, coupons for Bhog (food, fruits and sweetmeat offered to the deity) were exhausted by noon on Navami, the last day of the five-day festival.
Shanto Ghosh, who has been visiting TT Nagar Puja Pandal, for the past ten years, says, “For us, it is time for feasting; there is no question of fasting, though a few people observe fast only on the occasion of Maha Ashtami.”
Earlier, food was distributed in the Pandals and thousands of people enjoyed it, he said. This time, one had to pay Rs 100 for a packet of Bhog.
During Durga Puja, the Pandals turn into places for Adda (gossiping). The Pandals, pitched in by Bengalis, also turn into Adda zone this time. But they have been deprived of that Adda for the past two years.
Some veterans recalled how night-long cultural events were held with local artists putting up performances, including plays.
A priest of Kali Badi, Tapas Bhattacharya, said they had put up a barrier in front of the idol of the goddess to avoid a huge crowd.
On the night of Ashtami, all corona-protection norms were thrown to the wind, nevertheless. And this happened everywhere in the city.
Thousands of devotees who mustered at different Durga Puja Pandals to have a glimpse of the goddess were without masks. Sanitisers were nowhere to be seen.
Goddess Durga destroyed Mahisasur (buffalo demon), but if people throw corona-protection norms to the wind, the modern demon ‘Corona-sur’ will tear down humans, and people have already seen that, said an elderly person, Rajendra Ganguly. But the sounds of drum-beats drowned his voice.