Delhiites are welcoming kanjaks home, this Ashtami
It’s about two years since denizens haven’t been able to do kanjak puja (young girls) without the fear of Covid-19. Many didn’t invite kanjaks home, to avoid coming in contact with the children, due to the pandemic situation. And now, Delhiites are in no mood to let the pandemic damper their spirits further as this Ashtami and Navami they are confident to bring home the little angels to seek blessings of Ma Durga, as the Navratri celebrations near conclusion.
“Ashtami marks the beginning of festivities for us in the real sense, as finally now the number of Covid cases are reducing this year. This has given us an opportunity to resume worshiping the young girls as avatars of goddesses, by not just home delivering the prasad at their home, but actually inviting them to our home like how we used to mark kanjak puja in old times, says Samridhi Verma, a teacher from Kalkaji Extension, adding that she’s armed with “face masks and sanitiser bottles”.
Most Delhiites celebrated kanjak puja virtually until now, when all the adult family members in the house have got at least one dose of Covid vaccine. And some have even planned celebrations keeping social distancing in mind. “Is bar paer dhone ke saath saath, hands bhi sanitise karenge kanjaks ke, entry ke time,” says Manisha Verma, a school teacher from Malviya Nagar, adding, “We will be masked all the time since we are well aware that kids are still not vaccinated, and it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of those coming to our house! So we have made the seating arrangement in a way that they will sit apart from each other. Also, we’ve decided to distribute only dry and packaged snacks in the prasad because some parents might still be a bit reluctant to let kids eat food prepared at someone else’s house; due to Covid concerns.”
And parents of young girls too, seem confident to send their daughters to houses in close vicinity for kanjak puja. “Now the kids have started stepping out to play, so we are comfortable sending our daughter, Meher for the puja. But we are only allowing her to go to the house that’s close by. In fact, I have personally spoken to the inmates of that house and they have assured me that they are taking all precautions and calling only a limited number of kanjaks. And I won’t be surprised if Meher comes back with a bottle of sanitiser alongside sweets and chhole puri (laughs),” says Aparna Rastogi, a homemaker from CR Park. And Geeta Verma, a businesswoman from Patparganj, shares how they have staggered the time of puja, by calling each kid separately! She explains: “We will not call all kanjaks at the same time. We will keep the plates with prasad ready, and invite them separately and give it to them. Of course, we will be masked and will sanitise their hands. But in case someone isn’t willing to send their daughter, we don’t mind going to their place to hand over the prasad to them,” she says.
Author tweets @anjuri