Why Bengali Mothers Fast On Maha Durga Shashti
Image Credit: Shashti fasting platter, Image Source: scratchingcanvas

The sixth day of Durga Puja is known as Durga Shashti. It holds a unique place in Bengali mothers' hearts. According to legend, Goddess Durga and her four children: Saraswati, Laxmi, Lord Ganesha, and Lord Kartikeya—arrived on earth on Maha Shashti. Amontron, Bodhon, and Adhibash are the ceremonies performed on this day. Everywhere, 'Dhaak' drums are beaten to herald the advent of Goddess Durga. She is considered to be the Mother of the Universe. Resonating with this thought, Bengali mothers observe a fast on this day to protect their children. It is believed to shield their offspring from evil.

Restricted food

The mothers abstain from a lot of delicacies and follow the laid down rules of Shashti Uposh, or fasting. The Durga Shashti cuisine is exclusively vegetarian. It also contains fried foods. Roti and other burnt, charred meals are not permitted. Mothers can't have bread. Ritualistically, rice is not allowed. Vegetables and dals are prepared without onion or garlic. Even the use of ginger is barred in a few families. And naturally, desserts are the highlight of any festive buffet. On this day, rice is typically not consumed. However, these restrictions are on the one observing the fast. Everyone else in the family is free to indulge in whatever they like. However, eating non-veg food is by large not allowed in many families. Even vegetables which are oven baked shouldn't be consumed. 

What is allowed?

Luchi and cholar daal, Image Source: experiencesofagastronomad

As mentioned above, burnt or roasted food items aren't allowed, and rice is also restricted; the mothers go for fried Indian bread. Typical Bengali fried items such as luchi, mator kochuri, and Radha Ballavi remain the mainstay. These are teamed with vegetarian curries and lentil-based dishes. A few popular choices are niramish aloo dum, kumror chokka, aloo phulkopir dalna, narkol diye cholaar dal, chanar dalna, begun bhaja etc. 

Something sweet

Chanar Payesh, Image Source: rumkisgoldenspoon

The options for sweet something are many. Thus, many families cook chanar payesh, narkoler malpua, sabudana payesh and desserts without using rice or its flour. For healthy sweets, many mothers also rely on seasonal fruits and juices.