If you are a non-resident Bengali (a Bengali residing anywhere but the East – Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Tripura or Assam) you definitely crave for Pujo back home!
It is true that Durga Puja has become a universal festival celebrated all over India and across the world, but we don’t breathe, live and talk Pujo in other places. In Gurgaon for instance there are quite a few Pandals where Durga Puja is celebrated Bengali style with dhak, dhunichi dance etc. Pandals in Gurgaon however are much simpler than the ones in Agartala or Kolkata and off course far apart. We do come across women in saree and men in kurta pajama but the younger lot is generally in ‘fashionable’ western attire.
Food is quintessential to the Bengali culture and there is always a wide variety of food stalls outside the pandal. Be it Egg devil, mutton chop, fish fry or rolls you have it all served with kashundi (Bengali mustard sauce). There is Mughlai parantha and kosha mangsho, rosogolla and much more.
This time I also came across stalls offering Lucknowi and north Indian cuisines, I even came across a Waffle stall at DLF Phase 1. Times are changing so are the taste buds!
The spirit however remains the same. Those few hours that I spent in the pandal made me feel like I was back home. Though outside the Pandal it is life as usual, social media platforms carry forward the celebratory mood. Facebook and Instagram are splurged with images of Pandals and Durga idols from all over the world. Photos and videos of Pujo in Agartala and Kolkata are being posted regularly on WhatsApp Group, making it impossible not to miss home!