Bonding with friends and family over food, adda, music and dance top the list
Looks like catching up with friends and reuniting with family members is a popular plan for this Durga Puja. Six college students share how they will be spending the five Puja days, keeping COVID safety measures in mind.
The pandemic has consumed our normal lives and has burdened us with the ‘new normal’. However, being a true Bengali at heart, it’s almost impossible to not have plans for Durga Puja. I have decided to keep in mind all the safety measures and plan my days starting from Chaturthi to Dashami.
Being an avid pandal-hopper, I couldn’t keep pandal-hopping out of my plans. But I have decided to avoid crowded pandals. I will also try hard to resist bhelpuri! On most of the other days, I have invited my friends over to my place. We will jam, watch movies, have hour-long discussions and catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s life. I hope and pray that this is the last time we make Puja plans so carefully.
--- Aneesh Nag, second year, BSc, Mathematics, Asutosh College
Extravagant pandals, new clothes, blue skies and the idols -- Durga Puja is a special time of the year for everyone. However, times are difficult now and our safety is most important. Instead of going out, I’m planning to stay home on most days. I have made an extensive list of new K-drama series like The King’s Affection, Reflection of You, and books like My Dead Body (William Warwick Novels) by Jeffrey Archer, new knitting patterns I wish to try out and lots of family time are on my agenda this year.
If I do go out, I’m looking forward to visiting my relatives and cousins whom I haven’t seen for over a year. This year I will skip visiting pandals. Meeting up at a friend’s house to spend a day is safer than pushing through a crowded street.
--- Sharanya Misra, first year, BSc, Biotechnology, Amity University Kolkata
Since childhood, I’ve spent my Puja vacation at our Deoghar ashram. Starting from the cultural programme to the bisarjan, we used to have extensive plans.
Due to the pandemic, last year’s Durga Puja was a heart-rending one. Neither could we go to Deoghar, nor could we enjoy ourselves in Kolkata.
We have evolved and learnt to find opportunities amid disruptions in this ‘new normal’. This year, keeping safety protocol in mind, my friends and I have decided to celebrate in our own tiny way. I’m a dedicated Odissi dancer. For me, dance always played an important role in Durga Puja. We are gearing up for the get-together and have already started practising in Google Meet sessions.
--- Brishti Mukherjee, second year, BA, History, Loreto College
As we approach the most awaited festival of the year, it’s impossible to check my excitement and emotions. Though restricted, I do have plans for all the days.
I will definitely utilise the online home-delivery services, instead of visiting restaurants, to satisfy my hunger pangs. Being a musician, I have planned to enjoy a daylong jamming session at home with my family and friends. My college friends and I will virtually celebrate Durga Puja by sharing thoughts and emotions.
--- Soham Bhattacharya, first year, BSc, Mathematics, St. Xavier’s College Kolkata
Being extremely passionate about Durga Puja just like any other Bengali, I eagerly wait for the festival throughout the year.
Just like wearing masks and sanitising hands turned into a need for this pandemic, limiting our outdoor stay-time is also equally necessary. Cultural activities have always played a significant role in Durga Puja and this time, too, these programmes and gharoa adda will come to the rescue as pandal-hopping and going out will be limited.
--- Srija Sengupta, third year, BTech, Biotechnology, Amity University Kolkata
For me, Durga Puja means pandal-hopping, wearing new dresses, eating delicious food, endless chatter and indulgence. However, because of the pandemic, it is really necessary for us to avoid crowds this year. I’m planning to spend Durga Puja in my house with my family and friends, replacing fast food with my mother’s delicious recipes, especially Mutton Kosha. I would prefer virtual pandal-hopping instead of going out. During the lockdown, I explored and learnt to cook new dishes. I have invited my friends over and plan to cook for them.
--- Srijani Datta, first year, BTech, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Future Institute of Engineering and Management (FIEM) Kolkata