Saraswati Puja 2021: Some skip show yet revel in culture
Think Saraswati Puja, and one is immediately transported to a pandal decked up in hues of yellow and white. Celebrated on Shukla Panchami of the Magh month according to the Lunar calendar, the tradition of worshipping Goddess Saraswati, who is considered the deity of music, culture and learning, is celebrated by many especially those following the Bengali culture.
In Bengali households, this puja is generally followed by bhog (prasad), which is usually a khichuri prepared with sabzi, chutney and sweets including payesh (kheer/milk pudding) made with date palm jaggery. But this time, denizens are looking forward to low key cultural programmes due to Covid-19.
Keeping the tradition alive
“Traditionally, Saraswati Puja is done in every household and school (in Bengal). Continuing that tradition, we’ll do it ourselves in our home. White and yellow are the relevant and auspicious theme colours. We’ve scaled down the Saraswati Puja celebrations this year to maintain social distancing and keeping the safety aspect in mind. But, music and other performing arts will be presented in front of the goddess in the evening after the aarti,” says Arabinda Chakraborty, president, Bangiya Parishad - Gurgaon.
Bhog, cultural evening at pandal
Navapalli Puja Samity, which is celebrating the 29th Saraswati Puja this year, has decided to not to have distribution of bhog, and even cancelled culture programs. “We’ll be following all Covid-19 norms like social distancing, masks and hand sanitisation, and also have a very limited list of visitors for the puja. We’ll definitely miss the cultural programs, but will keep the tradition alive,” says Ravi Kant, general secretary of the puja that takes place in K Block, CR Park.
Saptak, a conglomeration of musicians and singers, is celebrating Saraswati Puja at CR Park, E block. However, keeping in mind the pandemic, lesser people are invited this year. The Khichuri Bhog distribution at night will be a part of the celebration here. Delhi-based Mihir Basu, from a choir, says, “We’ll be part of this puja at E block in CR Park. The puja will be in the morning and there would be a small cultural program including song and dance at night. It’s not a big program this year, but we want to carry on the annual tradition.”
Pre-approved roster to help
Like Kali Puja last year, Purbapalli Durgabari Samiti, in Sector 15 in Gurugram, has celebrations lined up in a systematic manner. “Kids are an essential part of this celebration so we have pre-approved roster. Social distancing and sanitisation is being done here. We have a simple celebration that takes place with families coming together, and a day of fun filled activities. We decided to cut down the major celebrations to keep it to just the most essential rituals, and we are going to live stream the puja from the mandap,” says Aurindam Mukherjee from the samiti.
Author tweets @NainaArora8