In North India, on the ashtami, or navmi (8th or 9th day of the Navratra) 9 little girls, usually 4 to 12 year-olds are invited to homes of devotees for being worshipped. This is called kanjak pooja. They are considered as the 9 avatars of Durga Maa and each one is praised like an actual Goddess. People put vermillion on their foreheads, wash their feet with water and touch them for blessings. They are fed with feasts, given gifts and some cash offerings, whatever is the wish or the capacity of the host. The little girls accept all the offerings with love, then bless the family and move on to their next destination, only to return with their blessings next year.
You’ve been one naughty little brat like I was.
Of course, I went for kanjak pooja but me and my Kanjak pooja gang had a lot of other things on mind. And the blessings…?? Those didn’t come out us naturally, so we needed to be genuinely pleased. So here I bring to you a set of my favorite GIF trails to tell you how my kanjak pooja gang used to be as a kid!
1. There was the basic ‘Kanjak mata-dress code’.
Mom would always dress us up in those typical red lehengas, with whatever bits of make-up was allowed (bindi, kajal, a tint of lipstick we put without Mom knowing about it) and we would make sure to carry a small purse. How can Mata just look like an ordinary girl? We’d look stunning (at least to our own selves!!)
2. We did not want to eat!
As much as every home made different varieties of the SAME halwa, choley, poori, we never wanted to eat all of that everywhere. Eventually, we started carrying plastic bags and fill them with food. But aunty would still be like “beta thoda kha lo” (Please have some, my child) while our faces would be like:
3. But they still insist - “Beta thoda kha lo” (Just have some, my dear)!
And we’d still be in refusal mode:
4. But then they get really pushy, put some forcefully in your plate and you just eat it because you really want to be the highest gift collector.
5. You kinda love the celebrity like feeling of women waiting to take the gang to their house first!
(Yeah, like they’d finally serve Maggie, but NOPE! Halwa, Poori, Cholley it is!)
6. The aunty who gave us button push pencil boxes, or really pretty hair bands along with some moolah would be our favorite.
Next Navratra, everyone went to their homes first, because unless we visited them, they’d not break their fast of 9 days. So, Mata is pleased and will be considering visiting you first, dear devotee!!
7. Some aunties would be so hassled with their own work at home, they’d be screaming our names.
I used to get the screaming a lot (No wonder my kids are so naughty!)
Like “Honnneeeyyyyyyy, CCComee sit here!!!!!!! Don’t touch my VAASSEE!!! I’ll tell your MOOOMMMMMM!!!!”
But dude, I’m Mata today! You don’t talk to Mata like that! Can I expect some respect in return of my blessings, please?!
8. As the mean bully I was, when I stopped going, I’d take half a share from my sister’s earnings. Come on, she gets to eat all the Halwa, poori and cholley and all I ask for is half of the money!!
Those were funny times for sure and we’d be on a hoarding mode for no rhyme or reason. It was like some kind of competition on who got the maximum amount of gifts and money.
How did your kanjak pooja really look like?? Give me an honest confession in the comments below.
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In the meantime, I hope you get better behaved Kanjak Matas than our gang!
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