Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saraswati Puja 2014

The last time I remember celebrating Vasant Panchami was when I was in school. This day is dedicated for the worship of Saraswati Maa (Goddess of knowledge, music, arts, science and technology). During the school days, everybody used to look forward to the festival to get out of the monotonous school uniform and dress up in colourful clothes with yellow obviously dominating the colour palette. 

Yes, ideally one is supposed to wear white or yellow clothes on this day. Saraswati puja (ritual) was conducted and Saraswati vandana(prayer) was sung by the school choir followed by  lunch in the school garden. It used to be amazing.

After all these years (and I don’t mean half a century LOL but yes after ALMOST a decade) all those school memories were refreshed when I attended a Saraswati puja this year.

A friend of my sister-in-law is a Bengali and her family conducts Saraswati puja every year on the day of Vasant Panchami. So, on the 4th of february I got an opportunity to experience the Bengali culture and witness their Saraswati puja. It was scheduled for 11:30 A.M. The idol of Saraswati Ma brought in specially for the puja was spectacular. It was sourced from C.R. Park in New Delhi. The wall behind the idol was decorated with yellow and orange marigold flowers and little yellow twinkling lights. It sure made a beautiful background.

There were books, fruits and sweets that were kept as an offering for the goddess. When the puja was about to come to an end flowers were distributed to everyone which were then put back in a basket and offered to the goddess. The puja was followed by a havan (a ritual in which offerings are made in a consecrated fire).

The majority of people attending the puja were seen clad in yellow or white. While I chose to wear a yellow sari (traditional Indian outfit) my sister-in-law wore a pretty white one.
Idol of goddess Saraswati at the puja

I would not deny that I was eagerly waiting for the post puja lunch. I had heard so much about the food for this last one year that I just could not wait to get a taste of it. And I must say that I was not disappointed. The food was sooooo good!

There was sweet tomato chutney (Sauce), beguni (aubergine dipped in a batter of gram flour and then fried to the perfect crispiness), matar khichuri (lentils cooked with rice and peas) and chawchodi (a mix vegetable). For desserts the popular rasgullaa (Indian sweet) was served along with rice kheer (dessert made of milk and rice) cooked with cashewnuts. The food was so simple yet so delicious.

I loved the combination of khichuri and chutney. The sweetness of chutney somehow went well with everything. A shameless I settled only for three big servings. My stomach was satiated but my heart still wasn’t. But after three enormous portions I had to stop for the sake of my then full tummy :p.

I did not shy away from trying sandesh (a Bengali sweet). I tried both the variations that were available there. While one was made from sugar the other was made from jaggery. I relished the latter better since the former was too sweet for my palate.

Once we all finished enjoying our food and satisfied the gluttons deep within we got ourselves clicked. After all, the effort that was put in to dress up was not supposed to be wasted and was worthy of getting captured, right? After a quick photo session we all sat and talked for a while.
one of the clicks i had on my phone from the puja

After an hour of chit chat we finally made a move and thanked the family for inviting us over.

P.S.:  I was so busy hogging all that yummm food that I forgot taking it's pictures :(


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