CUTTACK: Devotees of Cuttack will not get to relish the delicious Machha Bhog (fish bhog) offered to Goddess Durga on Navami this year.
The tradition of offering Machha Bhog to the Goddess at the Chandni Chowk and Alisa Bazar Puja pandals and distributing the bhog among devotees has been prevalent for the last two centuries.
However, owing to the State Government’s directive for muted celebrations this year, the two puja committees have decided to cook a small quantity of the bhog only for offering to the Goddess.
Usually, the committees offer quintals of Machha Bhog to the deity and then distribute it among people.
"The tradition of offering fish as bhog is said to have started with the inception of Durga Puja at Chandni Chowk in 1817. Last year we cooked and offered four quintals of fish as bhog. But, this year, we have decided not to distribute it among the locals and cook just one to two kg of fish for the ritual only," said Chandni Chowk Puja Committee Secretary Bijay Kumar Behera.
He added that the puja committee will also not hold ‘Medha Melan’ this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 40 to 50 'medhas' used to congregate at the Melan organised by the puja committee.
Similarly, the tradition of Machha Bhog is in vogue at Alisha Bazar puja pandal since the local Sahi chiefs took over the responsibility of organising Durga Puja from the local zamindar family in 1885.
Going by the tradition, the puja committee sends vermilion and Astami bhog of the Goddess to some fishermen, who worship their boats on the occasion.
As a mark of gratitude, the fishermen offer fish to the puja pandal for preparation of Navami bhog.
"Last year, we had cooked and distributed five quintal of fish bhog along with Kanika to around 5,000 people. This time, we will send Astami vermilion and bhog to the fishermen but we have told them not to send fish. We will procure 2 to 3 kg of fish from our local pond to observe the rituals," said Alisha Bazar Puja Committee president Kishore Kumar Mohanty.
Following the government guidelines, both the puja committees have also minimised the size of their idols to four ft.