Bhaswati Guha’s kitchen wore the look of a battlefield.
A resident of Chittaranjan Park, the 47-year-old woke up at 6 am on Thursday to tackle the chingdi maach (crab) and boneless chicken.
Her work on a “day off from work” ended by the evening when she joined a group of women who set out to various Anondo Melas (fairs) organised across the city.
A food festival that brings together the didimunis and dadabhais (aunties and uncles), Anondo Mela is a celebration of Goddess Durga’s arrival to the world from her heavenly abode, with her children.
Organised on mahashoshti (6th day of Durga Puja), it is a form of welcome for the goddess in which women participate by bringing home-cooked Bengali delicacies.
“Maa Durga’s arrival brings about an enthusiasm that typically finds expression in food and sweets. Anondo Mela is celebrated as this common expression of a community’s joy,” says Prabir Moitro, a resident of G Block, CR Park.
The history of the food fest is almost as old as Durga Puja but its scale has changed greatly — from a largely rajbadi event (zamindar’s household) in early parts of the 19th century to a community feast that it is today.
People flock to pandals (stalls) to get a taste of home cooked food ranging from biryanis to mughlai kebabs and the usual jhaal moori and ghoogni — all at reasonable rates.
“Offering food and sweets on a joyous occasions is in our culture. It is not a large scale commercial venture but an expression of the joy that Durga brings along with her,” says Jaanvi Maitra, a participant at the Pocket 40 mela.
Maitra could hardly manage the large queue for her aloo posto (fried potatoes with poppy seeds) and mutton ghugni (chickpeas cooked with minced meat, in gravy).
Chartered accountant Indrani Dasgupta took a day off to prepare her three-course meal — shorshe-baata maach (mustard fish), loochi (puri), gurer payesh (kheer made of jaggery) and paati-shapta (sweet made of flour and coconut filling).
Many enthusiastic foodies in the city also postpone their work just to make it to the mela in time.
“I left my office in Gurgaon at 4 in the afternoon to beat the rush hour to reach here,” said Shubhendu Chowdhury, a regular at the Kalkaji Extension Bangiya Parishad.
Golden jubilee celebrations
In its golden jubilee year for the Sriniwaspuri Sarbajanin Durga Puja Samiti, the organisers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a successful celebration.
Started in 1959, this Durga Puja attracts large number of residents of Ashram, East of Kailash and New Friends Colony.