Panchami of Durga Pujo Celebrated with Anandomela
Durga Puja starts from new moon day of Aswin (autumn) month in Hindu lunar calendar. The day is known as Mahalaya. Maa Durga is welcomed on this day on Earth to destroy the evil. From this day till the 10th day, pujo is technically on. But all grand festivities start on shoshti – the sixth day after new moon. The last five days are the most celebrated ones. Bengalees however aren’t usually satisfied to limit the enjoyment to those last five days. People start the celebrations from Panchami – that is the 5th day. Though religious ceremonies haven’t actually begun yet, since pandals are set up, people begin to gather. And now the trend is having anando mela– festival of food and enjoyment on Panchami of Durga Pujo.
I am just back after witnessing the anado mela celebrations at Ulsoor Durga Puja in Bangalore. The uniqueness of this event is that members of the association conducting the pujo cook several varieties of food and put them on sale. Food variety extends from starters to main dish to dessert. This is mostly an ‘all woman’ affair. Menfolk were seen contributing logistics support and also relishing away to glory. Most noteworthy is that the young working crowd who are forced to spend pujo here far away from their homes enjoy this event the most. Such home cooked food is rare.
Anando Mela on Panchami of Durga Pujo
Often it is not for profit or for any serious business but for pure interaction, involvement and enjoyment. And that makes the participation even more fulfilling and that of content. At Ulsoor Bengali Association, Bangalore, there were more than 20 varieties of eatables ranging from mutton biryani to narikeler nadu (Coconut based sweet). It was a cookery competition where a judge was brought in to taste the various dishes.
I am not sure whom the judge will declare as winner. My choice and vote goes for Custard Apple Payesh (Kheer, pudding) presented in little terracotta pots. The dessert is unique; the chef had used custard apple instead of rice in the pudding. Its consistency was excellent, neither runny nor thick. And the sweetness was perfect.
And while all this was on children of the association put up a variety entertainment program, each exhibiting their skill in poetry recitation, singing or dancing.
While exiting I saw idol of Goddess brought in a lorry to the pandal. Tomorrow the religious ceremonies will begin, Goddess Durga will be decorated with jewels and flowers. In scriptures she will be fighting with the demon, Mahishasur!