Like every year, a team of cooks prepare bhog in a firepit in a temporary shed behind the Kali Mandir in Chittaranjan Park during Durga Puja. But for the first time, this year, bhog is not served to thousands of people seated inside the pandal, but personally delivered by e-rickshaws — the designated ‘bhog delivery vans’.
On Saptami morning, the aroma of pulao and shahi paneer filled up the shed. Cook Sushant Dev Sharma (41), who heads a team of six, said the preparations are the same as every year. “But this time, it is not directly served. We send it a room where the bhog is first packed,” he said.
Three workers, who waited outside the shed with trolleys, carried the cooked dishes to the Vivekananda Centenary Library, inside the temple premises, where the food is then packed in metal tiffin containers having separate compartments for pulao, paneer, kheer, dal, and chutney. The packing started at 8 am.
Sreebash Bhattacharjee, Secretary, Kali Mandir Society, said, “Since we are not allowing people to enter the premises, we decided to send the bhog to their homes. People register on our website and give us their address so that we can get them delivered. Today, there are 850 deliveries.”
The cost of bhog has also gone up — from Rs 1,200 last year to Rs 1,500 now. Bhattacharjee attributed this to cost of the tiffin boxes. The society has purchased 2,000 tiffin boxes from a company in Mumbai.
Around 30 e-rickshaws were lined up inside the mandir, each with a capacity to carry 25 tiffins.
Organisers said that most of the deliveries are to nearby areas. However, some people, who stay far away, will come and pick it up from a nearby market place.
Prasad (52), an e-rickshaw driver, said he did many deliveries on Sashti too. “A boy with a list of names and addresses accompanies me… Yesterday, we delivered around 20 and came back with four since nobody opened the door in a few houses,” he said.
Meanwhile, at the temple gates, many who hoped to enter and have the bhog inside like before, were left disappointed.
Jayanti Ganguli (72), who came from Patparganj, said, “Nobody informed us that the temple gates are shut. I did not know about the bhog registration either. This is the first time in years that I will not be able to pray to the Goddess…”
However, Rumi Mitra (48), a resident of CR Park received the bhog with a smile. She said, “Covid situation has given us all a reason to introspect and worship from home. Maybe Maa wanted us to celebrate this way for a change.”
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