With the ways of living, the ways of celebrating our festivals have also changed due to the pandemic. So as Durga Puja approaches, the thought of not being able to revel in the age-old tradition of sindur khela makes one wonder how will the festival be this year! Durga Puja pandals aren’t planning to organise sindur khela in groups. But, where there’s a festival, there’s a way. And women in Delhi-NCR have already set plans to celebrate this tradition from the comfort of their homes.
The relevance of celebrating sindur khela varies from one community to another. Shampa Sircar Das, a Delhi-based artist, says, “This tradition has its origins in the Durga Pujas that were organised by the zamindars, to usher bonhomie among homemakers. The red vermillion colour symbolises the strength of womanhood or shakti that a woman has and uses to shield her family and the society while facing different challenges.”
“The final goodbye to Ma Durga on Dashami and the ritual of applying sindur on the Goddess’s feet and forehead will all be done virtually.”– Shampa Sircar Das, a Delhi-based artist
Talking about her plans of indulging in festive celebrations, Das says, “This year the pandemic has left us with no choice since a majority of puja celebration committees have decided to perform only Ghot Puja (worshipping an urn symbolising the goddess), and a few of them will perform puja with small idols without any usual lavish celebrations. The joy and preparation of wearing a red and white saree and taking along in a thali, flowers, sweets and sindur will become online this year! The final goodbye to Ma Durga on Dashami and the ritual of applying sindur on the Goddess’s feet and forehead which is followed by the sheer joy of playing vermilion or sindur with each other will all be done a virtually.”
Some denizens have even invited their friends to celebrate sindur khela in a closed complex. “I’ll be inviting some close friends of mine and in the garden of my house we will celebrate this ritual with all the fervour. I’ve also planned what all foods will be served and my music playlist is also ready. I don’t want to ruin the spirit of this annual affair due to the pandemic! When Ma is coming all the way for us, we must keep the spirit high,” says Sanghamitra Mallick, a Gurugram-based content writer.
“I’ll invite some close friends and we will celebrate this ritual in the garden of my house. Don’t want to ruin the spirit of this annual affair due to Covid-19.”– Sanghamitra Mallick, a Gurugram-based content writer
“Durga puja in Covid-19 might be dull, but not for me. I’m on my shopping spree! Dhunuchi dance and bhog is planned with my girls on Asthami and Mughlai dinner with family on Navami and sindur khela, all at my house. We would be wearing the new sarees to celebrate the rituals. Pandals are fun but let’s dance and celebrate for our soul this time,” says Alaknanda Kathak, a Noida-based dancer.
Author tweets @ruchikagarg271