Since Bong Eats, our YouTube channel on Calcutta food, started uploading videos last November, we have have received a spectacular response from viewers everywhere. We try to do seasonal, time-relevant recipes. Last fortnight, with Durga Pujo approaching, we decided to recreate Calcutta’s somewhat iconic street food, the egg roll.
Within a week, the video crossed 100,000 views. We got hundreds of comments from viewers . Some complained about the missing chicken in the roll, some rued the absence of kasundi. But overall people were happy since it chimed with their Durga Pujo mood – you know, pujo shopping, pandal hopping, interjected by egg roll eating.
And then out of nowhere we started getting hateful comments.
Most of the comments harped on how godless Bengalis eat eggs and meat during Durga Pujo, and how it hurts their Hindu sentiments. Others were just casually racist in their remarks about Bengalis. Some comments were so vile we had to delete them. Here are some samples.
These are just a handful.
On our other videos that use beef, such as the haleem recipe, the malice is scary.
Most of this hatred is targeted towards Bengalis and Bengal. We, as well as other people in India who do not speak Hindi and have religious rituals and culture different from the mainstream North Indian Hindus, have always been looked at with a mixture of suspicion and contempt. But now, with the government seemingly intent of foregrounding one particular brand of militant Hinduism, these people are becoming the voice of the nation.
As anyone who has spent even a few years in Calcutta could tell you, though, Durga Pujo is not a puja: It is a carnival. It is much, much closer in spirit to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras than to Navratri. It is a time when a whole metropolis comes to a stop to celebrate with friends and family. Absolutely mind-boggling art is put up on display for everyone to look at and be awed by only to be dismantled after four days. Food is eaten. Drinks are drunk. Songs are sung.
One can only guess that some people hear the word “puja” in Durga Puja and assume that this must comply with their rules of a puja – piety, havan, mantras, fasting, abstinence , the works.
In their minds they must imagine the Goddess surveying this debauchery from the heavens and fuming at the blasphemy of it all.
But Durga is our Goddess. We believe (and even an agnostic like me has no difficulty) that Durga is Bengal’s daughter who is coming home for the holidays to her mother’s house with her four children. The children are of course coming to their mama bari. Every Bengali child has fond feelings for their mama bari – where their mother’s strict rule ends, where their most outrageous wishes are pandered to, where they don’t have to study, they can play in the sun as long as they like, and eat what they want to, whenever they want to. Our childhoods were lived between one mama bari visit and the next.
Durga, like all Bengali mothers looks at this as a mixed blessing. On the one hand, she does not have to worry about the children – the grandparents and mama-mami (that is us!) will look after them. On the other hand, she knows that it will be an ordeal to bring the kids back to the rule of law after her imminent return. She spends time at her baper bari (paternal house) hanging out with relatives and old friends who are also back for the holidays.
Do you see how self-referential this is?
Durga is back for a holiday that celebrates her homecoming. And this is not where it ends. All Bengalis are also coming home or waiting for friends and family to come home during this time. That is how close we are to Durga – we practically have the same lives.
On the day of the Dashami, when Durga is returning, every person in Calcutta feels an all-engulfing sadness – a sadness so deep the god fearing will never feel for a Goddess. Because only when you love someone so truly can you feel so sad at her going away. Unlike you, we don’t fear Durga. She is one of our own.
Our mother is not a submissive cow. She is a fire-spewing, demon-killing, badass woman who knows how to have fun.
Saptarshi Chakraborty runs the YouTube channel Bong Eats. A version of this piece was first published on his blog.
Also read: In my religion, meat is Ma Kali’s prasad’: A Shakto Hindu objects to enforced vegetarianism.
Top picks, best deals and all that you need to know for the Amazon Great Indian Festival
We’ve done the hard work so you can get right to what you want amongst the 40,000+ offers across 4 days.
The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:
Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app
Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.
Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.
Plan your shopping
The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.
Track the deals
There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.
Big discounts and top picks
The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.
Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.
There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.
There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are LenovoTab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.
If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.
Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.
The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.
For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.
Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.
For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.
The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.
While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!
If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.
Check-out process and payment options
Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.
Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.