With Durga Puja heading our way quickly, it was time for me to pack up my suitcases, gather my presents and head home to celebrate with my family in Chennai. I was sitting in front of my laptop, looking for flights to Chennai while on the call with my mother discussing the arrangements, the Pandals we were planning on visiting, the people coming over for the festivities and of course- the delectable food! I was impatient and wanted to catch my Mumbai to Chennai flight that very evening.
I wore my scarf, grabbed my suitcase, locked the door and headed for the airport. It was only during festivities I was able to go home and devour my mother’s home cooked food. It was going to be extra special because of Durga Puja and I was positive my mother was currently in the kitchen whipping up delicious delicacies. I mentally thanked that Mumbai to Chennai flights were not long – just around 2 hours.
As I sat on the plane, listening to music and looking out the window, I tried to remember the Pandals I visited with my family and friends over the years. Our staple was The Bengal Association Durga Puja in T Nagar, the oldest puja in Chennai. They are known for hosting beautifully crafted plays, dances and music performances for the evenings as people gathered around the statue of Durga and her children, enjoying the music and the spicy street foods. I was hoping my younger cousins would dress up in glittery sarees and skirts and put on a show for us as they did every year after learning the dance steps to a new Bollywood song.
The Ramakrishan Durga Puja which started in 1995 was another go-to for us. I remember running around with my friends in lehengas with firecrackers and cotton candies in our hands. I sat in my seat; eyes closed, music playing softly in my ears, my mind jumping from one fond memory to another as the flight took me back home.
I would definitely say that the food is the best part for me during Durga Puja. My friends and I used to go crazy during college and bet who could eat the most amount of Pani Puri and we made it even more exciting by asking the vendors to make it as spicy as possible. Tears pouring out of our eyes and our faces red, we would not give up. No body loses a Pani Puri competition. It definitely would take a toll on our pride.
The two hour flight to Chennai was peaceful and I could catch up on my rest because I knew for the next 5 to 7 days, there would be no rest as we were going to drive all night and possibly all morning looking for new Pandals to visit.