For the past nine days, Prachi Athle has had a steady stream of visitors at her Dadar home lining up to pray before lord Ganesh.
Athle loves to fuss over the guests and serves them a spread of pav bhaji, chaat and snacks like dhoklas. “When I lived in a joint family, all the women got together and cooked Maharashtrian delicacies for guests during the 10-day Ganeshotsav,” said the home-maker. “Now, I live with my husband and children and cannot cook alone. I order food and snacks from a caterer,” she confessed.
With nuclear families starved for time and helping hands, traditional cuisine has made way for fast food during the Ganpati festival.
At her Wadala home, Gemini Gupte, a tarot card reader, entertains more than 50 guests every day. Gupte insists that they eat a full meal after seeking Ganesha's blessings. “The hot favourites are paani puri and pav bhaji,” says the 46-year-old, who occasionally also serves traditional Maharashtrian food to her guests.
Gupte says that many people are now stepping away from traditional festive cuisine and serving what they fancy. Amrita Ahuja, 34, serves chocolate sandwiches to the guests at her Breach Candy home. “People visit so many houses and eat the same sweets like kheer and modak,” said Ahuja. “These sandwiches, which I started ordering from a shop at Carter Road, are a big hit. In fact, all the children in my society come through the day hoping for a sandwich.”
But some, like Borivli-resident Neela Wagh, prefer to stick to the traditional fare. During the five days of festivity, her non-vegetarian family ate pure vegetarian food, without onion or garlic. “We prepared meals consisting of a variety of pulses and vegetables,” Wagh explained.