It’s a festival of celebration and family bonding. The last four to five days of Navratri are considered extremly auspicious and we celebrate it with great pomp and festive fervour. Right now, I am in Kolkata and the celebration is huge here with preparations going on all night.
Every lane is adorned with pandals which are lined with stalls of delectable food. There are huge dhaks (dhols) with sticks which are played on this special occasion. People go out and visit friends and relatives. I don’t do the pooja myself but participate in it. I like to wear a traditional sari during the ceremony with some ethnic jewels. I also enjoy bhog which is a kind of vegeterian khichdi and the special sweets.
Celebrations have changed over the years. As kids, we friends would get together and go around to different pandals.Being in the movies, it has become difficult to go pandal-hopping, but we friends still meet at each others house for durga puja’s. My mom, sister and me visit our neighbours house to do the aarti. I wear traditional sari and some jewellery during these pujas. My mother gifts us a piece of gold jewellery every year. We also get the opportunity to wear our grandmothers and mom’s classical Bengali saris. We also get invited by friends and relatives. I love eating the traditional aloo posto, mutton curry, chicken curry and fish.
Barkha Bisht Sengupta
Though I am from North India, I am married into a Bengali family (to actor Indraneil Sengupta). My in-laws do the traditional puja and I like being a part of it. I want my daughter who is two years old to understand and learn all the rituals of her paternal family. I like to dress her up in traditional baby clothes. I also wear a traditional sari--shakha and pola (bangles) jewellery, sindoor and bindi. I get gifts from my in-laws like saris, jewellery and even cash. I simply love the hilsa fish and the mutton mangsho that my mother-in-law prepares on the occasion.
Its a family tradition to have a grand Durga puja and festivities that last for four to five days. This year, we are holding it at a suburban hotel. Its family time as our entire joint family comes together for all the rituals. My cousins Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Ayan Mukherjee attend the rituals and we have a ball. This time, Tanishaa won’t be around as she is away for a reality show. We are forever pulling each other’s leg and generally having lots of fun and gossip sessions. We plan our designer sarees and blouses days in advance. We ourselves serve food to all those who attend the puja. We have Bengali cuisine on all days.
I make it a point to celebrate this festival with my family in Kolkata. I try winding up my commitments before the festival or postpone them. This time of the year is extremely important to us as a family. I take the first and the eighth day off as there is a bhog at home and it’s a complete day off. We cook delicacies at home, lots of mishti dhoi since everyone has a sweet tooth. We don’t have a lavish puja, there’s just arti and a family get-together where we take the blessings of our elders and distribute prasad to everyone. Usually the puja is followed by a maha arati. In short, family bonding, good food and fun all the way.