Why Bengalis Eat Non-Vegetarian Food During Durga Puja #wordsmatter

It’s not that time of the year without noise, celebrations, festivities, laughter, new clothes, makeup, adda with friends and family and most importantly pandal hopping and gorging on Bengali delicacies. This is the time when Bengalis all over the world celebrate the biggest festival in a Bong’s calendar, Durga Puja.

For most Indians, Diwali is the biggest festival but for the Bongs, Diwali is ‘one of the festivals’ but definitely not the main. We have Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Saraswati Puja (which is often referred to as Bengali Valentine’s day), nabo barsho and then Diwali. However, for the diaspora Bongs Diwali is gradually climbing up the chart. Especially for the diaspora-second-generation.

I am often asked by my “Non-Bengali” friends that why do we eat so much non-vegetarian food during Durga Puja, while the rest of India fasts and almost goes vegan during Navratri. My brother’s wife who is Gujrati almost got a heart attack when she saw us eating a double egg chicken roll on Mahashtami night. It was scandalously blasphemous for her, a shock that she has not overcome even after eight years of being married to a Bong man.

The reply is simple- There are two reasons why we do that (and if you are a Bong who has been asked this question please next time refer to this). The first reason is that Durga is a form of Shakti, she is a warrior goddess who was specifically created to go to war and kill demons. She was assigned to do a task that male Gods were unable to accomplish. Can you really send someone to war after feeding them a vegan diet? Would she have been able to defeat Mahisashura had she fed on dhokla and idli? Seriously?? She had to be given a high protein keto diet that would give energy, stamina, and strengths to her muscles, therefore, we unapologetically feed our Goddess with high protein diet and as her ardent follower we also follow the same protein diet and thus all Durga Puja pandals smell of egg roll, fish cutlet, mutton biryani, prawn pakoras, and chicken kabiraji. YUMMMM!!!!!

The second colloquial reason is that we worship Durga as a daughter who comes to her baper bari or maika (parent’s home) after a year, along with her kids, pets, and Mahisashura (poor fellow lost one war and became a slave for the whole life, Trevor Noah would surely find an apartheid angle in this). Ideally, when a Bong girl comes home her mother doesn’t feed her vegetarian food, rather she is served the likes of bhaat, kosha mangsho, rui macher kalia, ilish bhapa, chingri malaikari, chitol macher muitha and some vegetarian dishes like aloo dum, posto, beguni etc are thrown as side dishes. Their role in the menu is almost similar to the role of Katrina Kaif in a Salman Khan movie. Any Bong mom would die of shame, guilt, and depression if she is not able to feed her daughter fish and chicken when she comes over. So, when our daughter Ma Durga comes how can we make her eat only vegetarian food.  So all of us and our goddess eat non-vegetarian happily while naysayers keep holding their eyeballs from popping out.

I am all set for the puja. Are you?? May the festivities begin. Let good win over evil. Let Ma Durga fight the demons of climate change this year. Wishing all my readers a Happy Durga Puja and a Happy Navratri.

I received this tag from Shalini R at Kohl Eyed Me. It’s my pleasure to pass on this tag to Apeksha Rao at ApekshaRao.com. There are 38 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days – 4, 5, 6 October  2019. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised! Let us have a wonderful celebration of words during this festival season -because Words Matter!



37 thoughts on “Why Bengalis Eat Non-Vegetarian Food During Durga Puja #wordsmatter

  1. the bespectacled mother says:

    This is truly a Balaka post 🙂
    I liked the way you explained the reasons for eating non-vegetarian food during the Durga Puja days and yes they make complete sense to me. Yet, that keto diet improvisation for fighting the war surpasses all the other logic and rationale.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esha says:

    Haha…ami to henshe kuti paati….ki khasha likhechish re! Couldn’t agree more! Durga Pujo is celebration time…and it is the Mother of all Pujos and when it comes to food there’s no stopping us, isn’t it?
    Khub moja kor…anondo kor…Happy Pujo to you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Parul Thakur says:

    I loved your post and let me tell you why. I am not a Bengali but my parents and all of Papa’s side eat Sarson wali fish on Dusherra. We believe that it’s a day to celebrate and fish for us is good omen. I have grown up eating non veg during Navratras and my Papa told us your second reason all the time. He said when Bengalis are celebrating the annual home coming of their daughter Ma Durga, how can we fast and stay vegeterian? Mum was always shocked but my brother and I took after Papa when it came to food during the 9 days of Navratras. So your post reminded me of the good old days when I was growing up. This Dusherra, I will cook sarson wali fish too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jyothi says:

    I learnt something new today from you. I didn’t know the reason for this. In fact, I haven’t been to a Pandal till date and witnessed or tasted the food. I guess I need to make Bong friends here asap. Happy Festivities to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shalzmojo says:

    What a kick ass way to explain this Balaka, even as a few of the Navratri patrons die a slow agonized death over it 😉

    I loved the second reason a lot as it speaks of all the love and pampering to be showered on the married daughter by her parents. And I am a huge fan of bengali cuisine and look forward to the Anando mela when it happens in Gurgaon – such amazing food there. I always take containers to pack and take food home which lasts me several meals over 2 days at the very least 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Obsessivemom says:

    What an interesting post. I sort of guessed the first reason but the second one was an eye-opener. Isn’t it crazy how diverse our country is? I feel for your Gujarati sister-in-law :-).


    • Balaka says:

      Our country is indeed diverse with each region having its own ritual and custom. Durga to us is like a dear daughter whom we love to pamper. Thanks for reading Tulika.


  7. Sunita Saldhana says:

    Loved, loved loved this post! I am sharing it with all my Bengali friends so that they know what to say when people ask them why they eat non veg during this time. But on a more serious note, when we were young, no one bothered to ask at all. It was more a live and let live attitude. it is only of late that people have become judgemental about what you eat and how you dress and everything that is not done like the way they do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Balaka says:

      Thanks for the Love Sunitha. I agree that these days things have changed. Earlier we never bothered about all these but the divide is getting stronger with the new era in India. We are shamed for our choice of food every other day. I am tired of hearing “macchi khabi” in a condescending tone from the vegetarians as if the only thing a Bong does is eating fish. Thanks for this nice comment.


  8. Unishta says:

    Your mouthwatering dishes made me drool while reading your explanation for why meat is served during Durga Puja. Even though I’m not a Bong, I make non-veg during festivities because this is what the kids like. And why have an unhappy kid during festivals? besides God has made animals too !


  9. Shubhra Rastogi says:

    Wow, I loved reading your post. Now I know the reason behind all the festivity of Durga pooja. I loved the way how you compared aloo posto with Katrina Kaif. Lovely post and wish you happy festive time with Durga puja #WordsMatter

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Modern Gypsy says:

    Now this makes perfect sense! I love pandal hopping when I can manage it – October also happens to be insanely busy at work, leaving me with little energy to really enjoy this festive season. But alas, such is life!


  11. Vinitha says:

    Okay, so I didn’t know that Bengalis ate non-veg during Navratri. I haven’t kept any fasting or abstaining from non-veg rituals in the last 10 years.
    The reasoning you gave makes perfect sense. Yeah, we need the energy to keep up with all festivities. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. writershilpa says:

    I loved reading this post, B, for all the info you shared here!
    At my in-laws place, the prasad on Ashtami to the devi is mutton and wine/brandy. The Chandra Seniya Kayastha Prabhu community consisted of warriors also who needed a high protein diet as you said, and the mindset to kill in a war and hence the non-veg prasad. Initially, I too found it rather queer, but over the years I got used to hearing it. No, we aren’t as religious and follow the customs etc, but at my elder bro-in-law’s place, I guess this is how they celebrate.

    It’s interesting and fascinating reading about the varied customs in our country, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rajlakshmi says:

    I absolutely agree with your witty explanation. It’s the same in Assam. We even serve fish curry during puja at home. It’s a cultural thing. My Mom would be shocked if I ask her to just feed me vegetarian food. I hope people would stop questioning our culture and celebrate the festival according to their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Safoorah Sayed says:

    It was wonderful to read it. I am muslim so I eat non veg but almost all of my hindu friends avoid non veg and go for veg dishes but some of my friends from bengal eats non veg now I know why.😊

    Liked by 1 person

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