Meat of the Matter

Why was a Bengali trolled for a video about eating egg rolls during Durga Pujo?

Many Hindus now think that vegetarianism is a necessary part of their faith. Where does that leave meat-loving Bengali Hindus?

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.

Our Goddess

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.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.


The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.