Covid-19 and Kanjak puja: Home chefs to cook up Navratri delights
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Navratri celebrations are subdued and too much #WorkFromHome has made people turn to home chefs, to help them cook up a delight for Kanya Pujan — where they worship nine girls on Ashtami (the eighth day) or Navmi (the ninth day) day of the fasting period. Most working individuals feel that seeking help from home chefs is a comfortable option in these times.
Amita Garg, a Gurugram-based home chef, who has been preparing Navratri delicacies since last five years, says, “This year, people who are busy juggling work and home, and are unable to find time to prepare bhog for Kanjak, are placing orders with us for home delivery of food. There is a sense of trust and faith since they know that we prepare our food keeping in mind utmost hygiene, and they know that I too fast during Navratri.” The bhog includes halwa poori and chhole, that is offered to young girls worshipped as Durga incarnations. “Some customers have even requested us to add in titbits such as chips or chocolates, so we’ll include those as well in the packets that we will make for Ashtami and Navmi,” adds Garg.
For Teena Ahluwalia, a lawyer based in Delhi’s IP Extension, chefs like Garg are helpful in the time of need. “I’ve immense work pressure, which has increased manifold during Covid times. While I try to make bhog for kanyas on Ashtami and Navami, it’s not going to be possible with my schedule this year. Home chefs make great Navratri food, and from their home kitchens that are sanitised, so I will be asking one to make and deliver it to my place on the day of the puja,” says Ahluwalia, adding that ordering in from home chefs is a safer option since it assures quality as well as safety, which is paramount during this time.
Another home chef Abhilasha Jain, a Gurugram resident who specialises in vegetarian food, says orders for vrat (fasting) food picked up amid the pandemic. “A lot of working women placed orders for Kanjak bhog with us. This year, people didn’t want to risk the safety of young girls by calling them home for puja. So, I was asked to deliver the bhog at 7 in the morning to their homes, so that they can in turn drop the packages to the homes of young girls,” she says, adding that for people who have to go to their offices, Jain had the option of packing the bhog in steel boxes that people could safely deliver to the Kanjaks on their way to work.
Abha Bhhakoo, a resident of Dwarka, agrees that the provision of having home chefs cook for Kanjaks eased her work. She says, “I’ve certain commitments because of which I wasn’t able to make the food myself. So I’ve asked a home chef to make it for me. Plus, it may not be safe to ask young girls to come home for the puja, so I plan to get the bhog packed in cute tiffin boxes, which can be delivered to the girls at the comfort of their homes. This way we will continue the tradition, and yet not put their health at risk.”
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika