Another kind of Durga Pujo

Durga Pujo is the most awaited festival for us Bengalis. The festivities begin with Mahalaya which announces the arrival of Mother Goddess. Months ahead of durga pujo, we begin shopping for these five days, which hold utmost significance for us. The best attire, the finest food, pandal hopping, eating out and above everything else durga puja is about being with our loved ones – family and friends.

That is what this festival of joy has been like for the last 30 years of my life. Having stayed in the hostel for almost a decade, visiting home around this time of the year was very dear to me. The festival became more of a longing after getting married and staying far from my parents in a different city. I could be with them only during those few days. Also, I would look forward to catching up with friends.

This year is however, so different. The pandemic has changed the world around us so much. We have bought new clothes (as is the custom during the festival) even this year though this durga pujo is all about staying in. What makes me sad is that I will miss visiting my parents and catching up with good old friends and cousins. There will be no pandal hopping, and we are scared to eat out. Social distancing and not socialising is the key word now. This year is like no year ever.

So what do we do? How do we keep the joy, the celebration and the emotional connect of the festival alive? I have been pondering over this and have come up with a few ways that I will implement to keep the spirit of the festival alive.

1. Connect with family and friends

Since the most beautiful part of the durga pujo is about meeting family and friends for me, I will try to connect with them through phone calls and video calls. The two most important days ashtami and navami are fortunately on the weekend, so it would be an ideal time to stay home and have a nice family time together.

2. Addressing the food part of the festival

I enjoy eating out a lot, specially during this festival. But this year is not the right time to venture out. So I am planning cook a nice feast at home. If you do not like cooking, you may consider ordering in, or going for ready-to-eat meals.

3. No compromise on what I enjoy

I love wearing new clothes every durga pujo, so I am going to dress up just as I do every year. There is no going out, no pandal hopping, but who has stopped us from dressing up a bit?

4. Keeping the fun part of the festival alive in other ways

I am into watching movies and reading books. So, I have a decent pile of books that are waiting to be read. Also I am planning to watch some classic movies over the weekend.

5. Virtual pandal visits

Since there is no way I can go out to visit the puja pandals, I will not miss out visiting them virtually. Most puja pandals are going live this year on various channels, and also on social media, so it is easy to follow them up.

This year is different indeed, nevertheless, the festival is very much here, and we only need to approach it in a different way now. This another kind of durga pujo needs another kind of celebration. May we be fortunate enough to celebrate it in the good old manner next year! May the world heal soon!

Happy Durga Pujo!

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