Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Indian Muslim in Durga Puja celebration: Among the Bengalis, Enjoying the Delicacies

An Indian Muslim's visits to Pujo Pandals
The little Bengal had descended on this small Kali Bari teeming with the 'bhalo bhadralok' and pretty girls, a Manna De song on Calcutta's coffee house was turning everybody nostalgic.

And I was just focused on food--almost an hour after Iftaar [It's Ramzan, yaar]. So my Bengali friend, a bachelor away from his hometown, and I were roaming in the Kali Bari.

For Bengalis, it's an important part of the year. No matter if the person is religious or not, a Hindu or of any other faith, as long as he is a Bengali, this part of the year his cultural roots call him out to the Kali Baris in their towns.

The menu for just one outing [Saturday] could be an indication for you, that how much I enjoyed myself at the 'Pujo' Pandal.

1 Started with veg snacks 'Bhejitabal..' [as written in Hindi on the stall just like Bengalis pronounce]
2. Fruit Chat
3. Chana Jor Garam
4. Fried Fish Fingers
5. Chicken Tikka [Halaal-shop, a Muslim's I had ensured]
---------Smoking/ Cigarette Break---------
6. Biryani [though in a small 'dona']
7. Chicken Roll
8. Lots of Gol Gappas [Paani Poori]
9. Cold Drink

The menu changed everyday but remained this long.


Many of my friends are Bengalis and so I share their enthusiasm during the Durga Puja. Away from families they turn nostalgic. I can't read Anand Bazar Patrika or understand Bangla but can surely give them company.

This year I too I ensured that everyday I visited the place for at least an hour in the evening with my friend though it is tough because my working hours [6 pm-11 pm] don't permit that easily. This is the time, when Kali Badis in every city that has a Bengali population, turns into Little Bengal. I've been to them in many cities.


My friend took care of the pretty girls. I, being a married person, am not that interested [or I pretend!]. And of course all my attention was towards food. For three days I kept eating like a glutton and my stomach braved this gastronomic assault.

All sorts of cultural programmes like drama, songs, Ramlila and other cultural events were part of this Durga Puja celeberation. Already having best of snacks and non-veg dishes at home due to Ramzan [Ramadan], the khaana-peena an extension of iftaar at Kali Bari made this another unforgettable experience.