A sweet Mahanavami fete
As you sit back and enjoy a guiltless break from work on Mahanavami, how about relishing some sweets from Bengal? Just drop in at the Vivekananda Memorial Hall, to savour some home-made Mishtis (sweets in Bengali) that can add sweetness to your Mahanavami celebrations.
Anandamela, a mini Bengali Food Festival organised by the Trivandrum Bengalee Association (TBA), will showcase traditional Bengali dishes made by Bengali housewives residing in the city. Anandamela is being held as part the ongoing Durga Pooja celebrations of TBA.
From the world famous rasagulla and gulab jamun to the lesser known pithe puli and Pati Shapta, the food festival will give a glimpse of the Bengali delicacies to the citi-zens.
"We organise Anandamela every year, where lady members of the association prepare traditional Bengali dishes and sell it at moderate prices. Mostly it will be sweet dishes for which Bengal is most famous for," said Shanghamitra Dasgupta, who is touted as the sweets' specialist of the association.
Most of the Bengali sweets, including rasagulla, sandesh, chandra puli and pati shapta are milk-based, says Shanghamitra. While Sandesh is prepared by a combination of rava, paneer, kheer, sugar and a dash of cardomom powder, pati shapta is made by stuffing coconut, jaggery and kheer in a dosa made of rawa, moong dal and maida.
There are also exclusive condensed-milk versions of common sweet dishes like chanar jalebi, which is the paneer version of jalebi, and rosamalai, which is prepared by dipping rasagulla in kheer.
The TBA will also have special poojas for Mahanavami on Saturday. The Durga idols that are worshiped and later immersed in the sea, have been made by artists from Kolkata. Said TBA president Raikrishna Kumar: "We bring in artists from Kolkata to make the idols. The artists here do not know to make the idols in the traditional Bengali style. Besides, it is mandatory to use at least a little bit of clay from the Ganges while making the idols."
As many as three artists camp in the city for a week to make the ensemble idols of Durga Devi, Parvathy Devi, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Mahishasura. The artists also bring with them the costumes, ornaments and weapons of the idols.
Durga pooja is celebrated to mark the victory of Durga Devi over the demon Mahishasura, who obtains the power of eternity as a boon from Shiva. The Gods create Durga to destroy Mahishasura after he takes advantage of his boon to win over the three lokas.
"The whole purpose of celebrating this festival in its traditional way is for our children to know about our rituals. We also organise some cultural programmes in connection with the Durga Pooja festival every year," said Samir Kumar Das, a scientist at VSSC.
Drama is one of the main events in the cultural programmes of the Trivandrum Bengalee Association. Every year the association presents Bengali dramas by children and elder people. On Friday a children's drama, written and directed by association member Hena Manna was staged. The elders also presented a drama 'Chhondopoton', a psychological comedy written by playwright Biswas Roy.