The metros are all geared to celebrate Navratri with song, dance and food, finds NEETI SARKAR
Navratri is here and this is the festival that heralds the celebratory season that follows. Bangalore being a melting pot of various cultures, city folk from different communities are going all out to organise events that add sheen to the festival.
While the decade old ‘Raas Garba’ tradition hosted by the Gujarati Vaishnav Samaj in Palace Grounds where a footfall of 5,000 people are expected, is in full swing, the Bengali community too are celebrating Durga Puja in traditional style as they would have done back home. With so many non-Bangalorean residents in the city, MetroPlus finds out what it is about the city that prompts people to celebrate the festival here, far away from family.
According to Shilpa Gandhi, a marketing executive, “It is the preservation of the authenticity of traditions that I love most about religious/cultural celebrations in Bangalore. Every Navratri I’m in a different city on work and while I have managed to be a part of the celebrations wherever I’ve been, it’s only in Bangalore that I’ve found places that not just have an elaborate spread for the festival but sentiments of our community have been borne in mind by the chefs and the dishes they prepare do not contain onions and garlic. Why wouldn’t you love a place that lets you be who you are even outside your own state?”
For collegian Ashmit Dutta, “It is the fervour with which Durga Puja is celebrated in Bangalore that I love. I’m preparing for my exams and cannot go back to Kolkata. Despite the fact that I miss my family and celebrating the festival at home, I find that our community here is as enthusiastic about Durga Puja as they would be if they were in Kolkata.”
With the increasing number of Bengalis in the city, it isn’t surprising that the umpteen Bengali restaurants are doing their best to appease their customers during Durga Puja. But the non-Bengali restaurants too are doing their bit to make this an inclusive celebration. Raghavendra Gulur, Promoter, Dugout Rooftop and Sports Bar, Koramangala, says: “Apart from the fact that we wanted to cater to homesick Bengalis who haven’t had the chance to go back to their hometown to celebrate the festival, most of our kitchen staff are from Bengal and in order to make them feel special and at home, we’ve introduced a four-day Durga Puja lunch and dinner buffet. They feel so accepted and special and are even going out of their way to make it a grand affair. That apart, we have come to realise that this is one occasion when we can offer this cuisine to non-Bengalis too.”
While festivals are synonymous with traditions, there are those like Karthika Shravanthi, owner of a confectionery business, Bakeman Begins, who is doing something offbeat this season. “Times have changed and now parents don’t get as much time to teach their children about their faith and the kids too need a novel way to learn and remember things like this. I thought making cupcakes with Indian toppings like gajar halwa and gulab jamuns or baking these fairy cakes with edible toppers bearing the face of goddess Kali and of Raavan was a good way to include children in the festivity,” she says.
Going by the way people here are ringing in the merriment, it’s good to know that it isn’t just the city’s pleasant weather, its cosmopolitan life, or the fancy IT jobs that allure others. For accepting people across different borders to making them feel at home without losing their identity, Bangalore and its citizens deserve much adulation.