When is Navratri celebrated? Navratri or, Sharad Navratri is a major Hindu festival held in honour of the divine feminine. According to the Gregorian calendar, it is celebrated over 9 days during the month of Ashvin. Navratri mostly occurs during September-October and concludes with Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami. Navratri is celebrated differently in different parts of India. While the Bengalis celebrate Durga Puja, the Gujaratis maintain a strictly vegetarian diet and perform Garba, to commemorate the divine spirit of Shakti. This year, the Navratri dates or Durga Puja calendar are from 17th October 2020 to 25th October 2020. When is Durga Puja 2020? Durga Pujas usually commences with Mahalaya. It marks the beginning of the festivities as the third eye of Goddess Durga is carved. However, the year 2020 is an exception as the Pitri Paksha began on 1st September and Mahalaya occurred on 17th September. The actual dates of the revelry are marked on 17th October which will end with Vijaya Dashami on 26th October 2020. Looks you can ace for Durga Puja, 2020 Even though the country is scarred by the increasing Corona cases, and the Calcutta High Court has strictly ordered against pandal hopping, it should not dampen your puja spirit. Of course, you should not step out, but that does not mean you should not dress up, as well. This year, you should opt for light and vibrant clothes that are both elegant and comfortable. For example, you can opt for a salwar suit with a bindi and minimal or nude makeup to pose for the staple Saptami Instagram look. Durga Ashtami is bland without the morning Anjali and saree. Something boho, something cotton and a kohl-rimmed eye should do just fine for the Ashtami morning look. Take a day off on Navami in your most comfortable pyjamas and catch up with old friends through video calls. And finally, for Vijaya Dashami, drape yourself in the beautiful hues of red and white to bid farewell to Maa Durga. Celebrate Navratri 2020 at Home with these delicacies Phovu Popular among Konganis, Phovu is the perfect dessert for Navratri. It includes thin rice flakes mixed with grated coconut and molten jaggery. This dish is also known as Panchagadai in some places. Ghari Ghari is a Konkani or South Indian snack which is prepared from ground urad dal mixed with a variety of spices. Little fritters are made from the batter and are generally served on the ninth day of Navratri. Aloo ki khadi It is a common North Indian delicacy rich in scrumptious gravy. Aloo ki Khadi is often eaten during Navratri ‘vrat’. It is easy to prepare and consists of simple ingredients like potatoes and sour curd. Peas Pulao Peas Pulao or pilaf as the name suggests consists of peas and rice tossed in ghee. It is a staple in almost every part of the country and goes well with almost any curry or snacks. Aama vada A variant of the lentil fritters, the aama vada is a crispy deep-friend snack usually enjoyed during the monsoons and the rains. This vegetarian snack is also offered to the goddess during the festival of Navratri. Ambya humman It is a special gravy made from ripe mangoes. It is often used as a substitute for chutneys and serves as an inevitable side dish in many traditional Konkani thalis. Maladu Maladu is a distant cousin of the ladoo family. It is soft in texture and often consumed to break ‘vrat’. Banana Halwa Indian festivals are incomplete without halwa. Banana halwa is simple, healthy and takes less than 30 minutes to make. It consists of maida, ghee, cardamom powder, cashew nuts apart from bananas. Vanpayar Sundal Sundal is the perfect snack for all seasons. It is made from all sorts of lentils and offers a sweet and savoury flavour to the tongue. Additionally, it is healthy, as well. Panchamrutham Panchamrutham as the name suggests consists of five basic ingredients: banana, milk, yoghurt, honey and ghee. You may add water and sugar as per your choice. It is healthy, easy to make and is often offered to the goddess during the puja. How should you celebrate Durga Puja amidst the COVID-19 crisis? Recklessly stepping out to celebrate Durga Puja is so 2019. This year, when hundreds of people are dying from COVID-19, we suggest you stay at home and celebrate a lowkey puja. You might use this period to catch up on movies and television series that you might have missed due to lack of time. You might even want to spend some quality time with your family and reminisce old memories and photographs. However, if you are stepping out, make sure to wear a face mask, sanitize your hands frequently and maintain at least 6m distance from other people. The epic Durga Puja menu that can be cooked at home Luchi Luchi or puris are a staple breakfast dish for all the days of pujo. Enjoy some hot and crispy luchi with chholar dal or aloo dom or even some kosha mangsho (spicy gravy of succulent mutton pieces) Chholar Dal Chholar Dal or Bengal gram is a must to break your fast after the Ashtami Anjali. Sweet, savoury, spicy, chholar dal does wonders to your taste buds. Kosha mangsho Kosha mangsho or spicy mutton tossed in clarified butter or ghee and a variety of aromatic spices and topped with caramelized onions goes best with hot and crispy luchi. You should definitely try this Bengali cuisine out on Navami. Fried Fish Durga Puja lunches are nothing without fried sea fish. You can eat is fried as well as a curry. It goes best with moong dal and fresh and warm rice. Vegetable Chop A favourite amongst the residents of Kolkata, vegetable chops are versatile. You can find it on the streets of Kolkata as well as in egalitarian tea parties. Made from a variety of vegetables and bound together with mashed potatoes, this snack is to die for. Radha Ballavi Radha Ballavi are lentil stuffed luchis and are served with Chholar Dal. It serves for a filling breakfast. Begun Bhaja Shallow fried brinjal slices are a staple in Bengali households. It is marinated with a variety of aromatic spices which brings out all the flavours and goodness of the brinjal. Aloo Posto A mixture of diced potatoes in poppy seeds, aloo posto makes for a great vegetarian dish and can be eaten with rice and puris alike. Bhekti Paturi Bhekti paturi is a smoked fish dish. The fish is deboned and marinated with mustard paste. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and smoked until cooked. It is one of the most aromatic dishes you will ever come across. Nolen Gurer Payesh A sacred rice pudding served to bring in good luck, nolen gurer payesh is the perfect dessert after a hearty Durga Puja lunch. Egg/Chicken Roll A famous Kolkata street food, pujo is not the same without egg or chicken roll. It consists of diced pieces of chicken wrapped in a paratha along with fresh salad. It’s easy to make and can easily fill in the void of pandal hopping at home. How can you support local businesses during Navratri and Durga Puja? Durga Puja celebrations are a major source of income for many eateries, craftsmen and artists. While you stay at home, remember to order in food from local restaurants and buy small tokens and gifts from craftsmen. You may also donate to the Kumartuli craftsmen, Purulia Dhaankis and Chhau performers for their efforts despite the economic crisis.