Whether you are a Bengali or a non-Bengali, you can’t deny that there is an air of festive mood in the entire country and it revolves around the colourful festival of Durga Puja.
People across the country are thriving to see spectacular pandals with different themes built in their cities and to catch a glimpse of Maa Durga at her magnificent and glorious best. Apart from pandal hopping and unending adda, savouring the variety in tradition is an essential part of Durgotsav.
From gobbling Roshogulla to gulping down Chicken/Mutton Biriyani, Bengalis go out enjoying the delicacies each pandal has to offer. However, while Bengalis across the world feast on the delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, the rest of India either fasts or sticks to a strict vegetarian diet that often even eliminates the use of onion and garlic during Navratri. One question that all Bengalis must have heard at least once in their lifetime is “how can you eat non-vegetarian food during the Pujas”?
While there is no specific reason as to why Bengalis feast on non-vegetarian food during the Durga Puja, the internet has thrown a number of theories that may end the mystery surrounding the same once and for all.
Victory of Good over Evil
In a typical Bengali household, meat held a great significance in a married woman’s life in the ancient times. A widow, on the other hand, had to abstain from eating fish and meat. It is believed that no married woman was allowed to leave the house without being offered fish and rice.
As per the Shakta tradition, goddess Durga is regarded as Shakti, the supreme being. In a bid to celebrate the death of Mahishasura who was killed by Durga Maa in an epic battle, people commemorate her victory by cooking an abundance of fish and sacrificial meat. In a number of places, animals are sacrificed and offered to the goddess in order to please her. The meat is then distributed as prasad.
Daughter’s return to maternal home
It is believed that Maa Durga lives with her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash. Durga Puja is viewed as Goddess Durga’s coming to the maternal home along with her children. Hence, like all parents and relatives, we welcome Maa Durga to her maternal home with the traditional authentic Bengali food that includes fish, maangsho (meat) and sweets.