Yes, I Eat Non Veg during Navratri

Maa Durga | Photo Credit : Stuti Banerjee

Maa Durga | Photo Credit : Stuti Banerjee


Dear Navratri celebrating North Indian,

Since years I get this look when I say or cook fish during Navratri,  “Arrey baap re, you are having non-veg”, followed by “these 9 days we don’t even touch garlic or onion” which implies that I am doing a sin.

Once a lady tested my patience by surmising, “What kind of puja you Bengalis do. You eat non-veg and say that it is your puja”, I actually had no answer to this judgmental behavior but seethed in anger and snapped, “We are like this only….totally wasted people”, her ego and intelligence seemed satisfied.

I am a Bengali. Guys, please accept it once and for all. Don’t give me dirty looks and act surprised when I say I eat non veg during Navratri. Your Navratri is my Durga Puja and for Bengali people it is a celebration time. We eat only non-veg during Durga Puja and not only that we even sell non-veg food in or near our pandals .

I am not committing any sin or blasphemy. Our Maa Durga, the Bengali version of Durga has happily given us permission not to be on fast. She loves to see us happy.

And if you may know Bengali ladies also keep fast and eat vegetarian on Soshti and Aashtmi. We are on fast till we perform morning pushpanjali. We serve only vegetarian food as prasad or bhog. So we are not that bad after all. Though I don’t need to justify but I thought you might like to know.

For Kolkata Bengali’s who are thinking what gibberish I am talking about because this concept is alien to them? Let me explain. In North India, people celebrate Navratri, same Goddess Durga, almost same Sanskrit mantras, and same reverence only with a minuscule difference – Vegetarian food and fasting.

So, Bengali people who eat meat during Navratri are looked down upon.

A sincere request, it is our way of celebration which is totally certified by our learned Brahmin purohits. So stop judging me and my ways of prayer and dare not give me the looks.


Non-vegetarian eating Bengali

Date: Navratri



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39 Responses to Yes, I Eat Non Veg during Navratri

  1. Chirantan Gupta says:

    this brouhaha about non veg during Puja or otherwise, is sheer Bengali battering. It appears that lot of Indians have lot of time in engaging in such petty activities more prevalent in adolescents. I have lived in a colony where we respected South Indians having doodh bhaat, Baniyas having daal roti, Punjabis having sarson da saag, Bengalis having kosha maangsho etc etc. India is a multicultural fabric with thousands of dimensions intertwining in every day life. Its difficult to even imagine 30 countries living together like India does. Once a Canadian had remarked to me that its amazing how India coexist; in Canada with only two languages had a referendum to separate”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to add one more thing here that we pray “Kali” and if people know she is carrying a sword and a cup containing blood. I am not a Bengali, but we do also eat non-veg in Navratries. Actually first day of Nav Durga, we offer non-veg to mata kali and “Rum” for Tripatri. I am from north India and same question I faced many times.

  3. Nishit Poddar says:

    I am a Bengali and I am proud of it. Few years ago I turned vegetarian and I feel great about it. It’s not like that Bengalis can’t be vegetarian. ISKCON, the organization which has taken the message of Bhagwad Gita around the world is based on the teachings of Gaudiya Vaishnavism which is a part of Bengali culture only and they are among the first people to teach westerners about satvik vegetarian food of India.
    But now when I see around towards my other Bengali folks in pandal it makes me sad. People are more concerned about enjoying chicken roll, macher chop, etc rather than celebrating Maa’s arrival.
    No matter what people say, a prosperous and happy society has a deep connection with satvik mode of life. It’s true that my community has produced some of the finest minds of this country, but I would like to ask other bengalis here that why West Bengal is in so dark state today. Why people are dying with poverty in Bengal? … It’s just because of ignorant mode of life of Bengalis. Yes bengalis do flourish when they go to other state, but then they spend their whole life working for Gujratis and Marwaris and other North Indian communities.
    Yes I am proud to be Bengali but sometimes I also feel ashamed of it.

  4. AkaybusBreeleevee says:

    Who ever wants to eat meat can eat meat during Navratris and who ever does not want to eat meat like the majority of believers should not. Maa durga is not worshipped only by the Bong community but rather the Hindu community. So let the different Hindu groups follow their traditions as well……just dont superimpose an idiotic pride saying that I m a bong so I eat meat. I AM A NON BONGAND TAKE PRIDE REMAINING VEGETERIAN DURING DURGA. SO BOTH ARE EQUALLY RESPECTABLE.

  5. Sohini V says:

    No self control for Bengalis and Keralaites. When rest of India is so pious by not eating non-veg during auspicious occasions, Bengalis and Kerala alone would hog non veg all round the year. No wonder these two states never prosper and live in dharidhra. You are what you eat, so their minds too are crooked because of such non-veg eating. Meat eating is wrong and very wrong during puja.

    • gitanjali says:

      Sohini, that is a very hard statement. You are generalizing it too much. Just because we love our food that doesn’t mean that we don’t have self control. There are many sadhus and sanyasis who belong are Bengalis and there self control is beyond question.

    • Anindya Banerjee says:

      Dear Sohini V,

      How old are you? Six? Seven?

      The connection you have made from eating habits to the states of West Bengal and Kerala are laughable. The states don’t prosper thanks to the politicians. Or do you want me to start reeling out the numbers of Bengali scientists in NASA and ISRO? Waitaminit, who was it who wrote the national anthem you sing with so much pride?

      In short, with such deep-seated prejudices as yours, I shudder to think what your kids (if any) will go through.


      anindya BANERJEEE

      PS: Personally i thought, Gitanjali was being too soft in her rebuttal to you. Oh wait, isn’t she supposed to be “crooked because of such non-veg eating.”

  6. akprerana says:

    This is sooo true !! Its just bang on the spot…..jake bole “bull’s Eye”. I just posted it on FB..sorry didnt take your permission. But your post is just so good that I couldn’t stop the temptation. Wishing you a superb Durga Pujo 🙂

  7. joystudutta says:

    Nicely expressed and almost echoing every Bengali’s feeling out of Bengal, especially during Durga Puja…

  8. The hallmark of any intelligent being is to use own common sense before talking about “Kali Maa” or any “God”. Before we talk about “Navratri”, the main questions should be “Are animals my natural food?”, “Do I have to kill other animals for my survival?”. When answers to these questions is a resounding “No”, what is the point of discussing Navratri diets?

  9. Kraanti says:

    I want you to feel guilty for partaking in the exploitation and objectification of animals. Real guilty. And if you have compassion that is not selective, you will. You are actually eating death, torture, and the fear of animals who did not want to die in the first place, and when left to themselves in Nature, would have lived out the normal span of their lives. You have the power of choice to stop being the cause of their painful deaths and suffering but you want to use convoluted logic to justify the holocaust on their bodies. You being happy, celebrating…. at whose cost? By cruelly terminating the happiness of another sentient being?! Wah! Apart from being low vibration food, compositionally, animal milk is nothing but pus, urea, and pesticides mixed with body secretion; meat is laden with animal feces; and eggs are a hen’s periods.

    Read this and ask your soul whether you are capable of elevating your consciousness to this level:

  10. Rahul says:

    By the way, what this post was for? Was anyone asking for any explanation? Note: I am a quarter Bengali by chance 😛

  11. Ayan Bose says:

    Well I guess its time I mention my thoughts about this. You see we Bengalis are very foodie types and we love our non-veg. We also believe that respect for religion does not entrust on not having non-veg or fasting. We definitely are a very culturous lot but don’t truly believe in blasphemy.

    We don’t snap back and say “Whole year you guys do all sort of wrong doings and during navratri you show as if no one is as saintful as you.”

    Just to let you know non-bengalis, our Vedas do not preach that you should fast or not eat non-veg during navratris. Vedas has a scientific explanation to fasting. Fasting and having veg food or fruits helps giving rest to your digestive system. Alas, the pandits don’t preach that to you. For us food is a celebration too. Hence, leave us with our beliefs.

    Happy Durga Pujo to all and have lots of non-veg.

  12. Nicely Drafted ma’am but I am not OK with the fact that you are seeking permission from Maa durga (You stated: “Our Maa Durga, the Bengali version of Durga has happily given us permission not to be on fast. She loves to see us happy.”)

    I guess you are either God fearing person rather than God loving Person. Why justify things based on GOD will like it or not. To eat anything is your choice but I do not agree to the fact that we must do certain things just because of the age old belief that “Oh God will be angry with me!”

    Apart from that it is a nice attempt to change thinking of those who still believe that eating non-veg during prayers is not good! If this is the case then people must look down upon those who waste so much of milk over the shiv-linga which does nothing but goes down the gutter in the end. Or that when people are praying for Lord Vishwakarma, they keep on playing loud music all night as if God will be very happy to listen to hip-hop rap and not sleep instead!

    • gitanjali says:

      Thanks for giving your valuable thought on this topic. I agree with you. You got it right. May be the way I was brought up the concept of God fearing is deep rooted. However, you are right that this is not a good way of thought. I also agree to wastage of milk by pouring it on Shiva.

      • vivekgiri says:

        What if I consider you and similar people being on earth as waste. Don’t justify you convenience in name of Bengali culture. We all know how our ignorant and chalta have behavior have caused us. I am not a hardcore religious but that doesn’t gives me liberty of marking whatever my religion have given me as waste and scrap.
        Hinduism is already marred since centuries due to our “Chalta hai ” behavior. Please don’t kill it with this kind-of article. You and me are free to eat and live the way we want but when you do distinguish yourself as “Hindi Bengali” I do have right to say “What kind of puja you Bengalis do”

  13. matheikal says:

    If only all people understood that religion is a local affair and a personal affair and each person can choose her way of fasting and feasting. Thanks for this post.

  14. Very true!!!! Love the post geetanjali! Saw it shared by a dear friend on fb.Devotion shouldn’t be set in rules. Its individual and only between god and his devotee. God really only sees your honesty. There’s no point setting rules and following rituals if you have no idea of what god wants us to do. To look inside and contemplate. For the record if you’re being judgemental sarcastic and critical of a culture other than yours…well you need to check with essence of shakti and not just read but understand durga saptshati which speaks of killing demons…ego being one of them…not respecting a viewpoint is a form of ego. I totally understand how you feel …I am often asked you’re a tarot reader a healer and a psychic medium…how can you eat non veg…you must remain pious specially in your diet. Enough said… happy navratras may maa durga guide us and enlighten us all.

  15. And the prejudices do not stop….I too have faced the same thing, it is funny how people are cocooned inside their culture and cannot even have the mentality to understand and appreciate other cultures.

    • gitanjali says:

      Yes Datta, I am beginning to see that it more about one’s perspective. These people are like the frog in the well.For them everything they do is good and everything unlike is both bad and against them. Nothing else exists.

  16. latasun says:

    Loved this write up. I am beginning to hate the way vegetarians are giving the non-veggies taunts on how they are killing lives to satify hunger.. blah blah. But its a way of life, and you have your way of life. Imagine if the non-veggies start force-feeding the veggie folks meat.

  17. umashankar says:

    People are vegetarian or non-vegetarian for personal reasons, religion being one of them. However, if you eat non-vegetarian food, it is sheer hypocrisy to shun it for a period on religious grounds —you either eat or not eat it. I find it ludicrous that some people turn away from onions and garlics too to appease the deities.

    • gitanjali says:

      And not only that Umashankar, I have seen people turning into frenzy, “Ah, tomorrow the navratri starts let’s get drunk today then for 9 days it will be sookha”. Now with this kind of emotion what fasting do you expect and what right do you have to question others. However, I have seen this tendency more among women than men.

  18. Alok Vats says:

    Lol, what is new in it Gitanjali, those who know Bengali’s are aware of this fact. I am glad that you thought to post about it 🙂 In India every Puja is celebrated in some other way at a near by distance only, and here the states are changing, so it will surely change it’s shape. 🙂

    • gitanjali says:

      Haha…yes Alok. Questioning one’s way of religion as it is a questionable deed and on top of it you come up with condescending behavior that is just too much.

  19. Anunoy Samanta says:

    Ahhh sab machhli ki kamaal 😛
    You should observe keenly how how men out there (and offcourse ladies too who has the passion) express their helplessness “Aaare yaar navratri aanewali hai… aaj pee lete hai” 😀
    What I feel, humans should stop pretending and trying things against the call of their ‘atma’… If you stay hungy minded you can’t be happy… aur khud khush nahi ho to bhagwan khak khush kar paogi :-))
    Joy Maa Durgatenasini…………….

    • gitanjali says:

      Haha…we being Bengali Anunoy I have seen this throughout my life. My dad’s friend would always be after him, “dada aap ke ghar pe baith tey hain phir kal se toh blah, blah….”

      Ridiculous hypocrites. Always hang around our house to get an invitation for fish party and then you have the audacity to question our beliefs and religious systems.

  20. wordscapist says:

    You said it! Certified, sane and perennial! Jai bangali! 🙂 Best wishes for a wonderful puja, Prasad, adda and Bengali delicacies

    • gitanjali says:

      haha 🙂 Yes, I finally had the guts to say it loud and clear. Interestingly after venting out I feel much confident for so many people relate and have been subjected to such judgmental behaviour. I had never known, had I not written,

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