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For god-loving Bengalis, sweets & biryani top puja menu

"The puja is celebrated ina big way even in my son's university. As Bengalis, we cannot think of not celebrating the Puja," says Sengupta. This year, however, she will be mostly alone.

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For god-loving Bengalis, sweets & biryani top puja menu
Sengupta family preparing for Durga puja at Khar Mumbai
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It is the festival that every Bengali looks forward to throughout the year. "We wait to offer pushpanjali (floral offerings) and aarti to Ma Durga," says Madhulina Sengupta, a homemaker who stays in Khar. The family of four, which moved to the city 18 years ago, has now three members living in Mumbai. Madhulina's son is now studying in Vellore.

"The puja is celebrated ina big way even in my son's university. As Bengalis, we cannot think of not celebrating the Puja," says Sengupta. This year, however, she will be mostly alone.

"I will not be able to join my daughter during the initial days because there is not even a single day-off," says Sumantra Sengupta. Her husband works as a chief executive officer with a marketing and digital company. However, Ashtami is the day when he will certainly try to stay with the family. Most Bengalis also try to attend the Sandhi Puja that falls between Ashtami and Navami.

Apart from dressing up in bright colours, the blowing of the conch shell, beating of drums, dhunuchi dance, the pomp and pageantry of the aartis, cultural programs, pandal hopping, sindoor khela and family meet-ups and above all bhog and Bengali delicacies play a major role.

While abstinence from certain types of food is seriously considered in many communities, the case with the Bengalis is different. "It's a completely non-veg affair. We are God-loving and not God-fearing people," says Madhulina, adding that Ma has come back home with her children. So bhetki (fish), chikcen roll, rasgulla, sandesh, kherkodom, patishapta are among the most sort after delicacies. The Senguptas do not cook food during the five days.

It is not just eating, Bengalis also make an elaborate plan for the sarees they give to Ma Durga. The Bongs buy Dhakai sarees that are woven in Dhaka and Tant sarees that come from Kolkatta. "We wear at least two sarees each day. One for the Pushpanjali, and one during evening aarti with a Gorod (white saree with red border) for last day of Sindoor Daan," says Madhulina.

The festival ends with Shanti Jal being sprinkled on the people. Shanti Jal is the water of the place in which goddess has been immersed when she heads back to her husband's abode.

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