Dhak, shiuli flowers, dhunuchi naach, adda, aarti and incessant supply of pujor bhog, Durga Puja is more than a festival. A fun and frolic, devotees are soaked in the festive air with friends and family. Only this year, it is so different. Usually, we welcome Maa Durga with full spirited dhaker bajna, dance and everything loud. But thanks to the pandemic, it is all subdued this year. The coronavirus pandemic has been a huge spoilsport for all the festivals, and Bong’s much-awaited Durga Puja is not left untouched. After the Calcutta High Court banned the entry of outsiders in Durga Puja 2020 pandals, leaving thousands of city peeps heartbroken, other places like Odisha and Assam where the festival is celebrated with equal pomp, has gone silent too. Amid the pandemic, there are so many things we Bengalis are going to miss this year. Pandal hopping, late-night adda and more, here are eight things that bongs are going to miss so dearly this Pujo.

1. Shopping and Sale


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Pretty kurtas from your mother, a beautiful sari from dad—all set for Ashtami. One set from pishi, two more from kaka, and a pair of heels from mama and mami, Durga puja is all about endless shopping spree. We need at least, one new set for each day and the endless sale in the supermarket makes it so much easier. We might have purchased a few this year online, but it is not the same as of the pujo vibe we get when we visit the market and buy notun jama!

2. Pandal Hopping


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Of course, this is the major thing we will so miss this year. There is a different kind of excitement while waiting in a long queue to catch a glimpse of Maa Durga, made by some of the most top-notch artists. Thankfully, we can enjoy the virtual tour online!

3. Fuchka, Ghugni, Chop—All the Street Foods!


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No bong would diet during the pujo season. We would rather make Pujo an excuse to gorge on food. Fish fries, fuchka, bhetki paturi, momos, chop, ghugni, kulfis and more—we would not miss anything from the stalls outside the pandals. While this year, we can get these snacks delivered to our doorsteps, or maybe some of us can try making all these delicious recipes at home, we will miss munching them together with friends and family standing in the crowds.

4. Astamir Anjali


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Donning the best traditional wear and running to the local pandals, Ashtami is the busiest day among Bongs. They wake up early in the morning, take a bath, wear new clothes and visit the pandal to participate in Anjali. Some even fast during the morning and break it after the Anjali. The prayer session is followed by a luchi-alurdom for breakfast!

5. Pujor Bhog


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Afternoons on Saptami and Ashtami are reserved for pujor bhog. Khichuri, chocchuri, chaatni, and many more, offered to the Goddess is being served among devotees who love to indulge in the amazing taste.

6. Late Night Adda


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Pujo is all for friends, food and addas. You do not need to seek permission for your late-night outings on Durga Puja. For sure someone will be jamming with a guitar and songs by old Bengali bands, while others would just enjoy the freedom for these five days.

7. Sindoor Khela


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Sindoor Khela is one of the most splendid rituals of Durga Puja. Married women smear vermillion on each other, older women serve sweets to Maa Durga, and kids would place their study books in front of the Goddess, seeking her blessings before biding teary-eyed farewell to Maa Durga.

8. Bisharjan


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Farewell to Maa Durga will not be the same this year. It is an emotional time for the Bengalis on the final day, Bijaya Dashami. Maa Durga is carried from the pandals to the river for immersion, followed by a large procession where men, women and children would dance on the beats of Dhak. The immersion congregation will be missed, but our prayers will reach the Goddess for sure.

It’s nostalgic! These are the few out of many things that Bongs are sure to miss during this pujo. Nevertheless, we can all celebrate the festival from home, minimal but fulfilling. Catch the live streaming of Durga Puja 2020 pandals and enjoy some home-cooked meal. As for the rest, do not be disheartened, because Asche Bochor Abar, Hobei!

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Oct 22, 2020 06:36 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).