“Priya can I invite Mriga for the Kanjak Puja today. I need at least Nine kanjikas for the puja. My puja will be incomplete without welcoming nine kanjikas.” Somi, our neighbor pleaded.

It happened just last year. My daughter Mriga had turned nine in September. Next month was October and we were all into preparation for Durga Puja. Among all Indians, Somi was the most devoted one; a perfect picture of full devotion on all ten days of durga puja.

That year on the ninth day of puja, Somi came to my house to invite Mriga for ‘Kanjak’ puja. She had already invited nine little girls. Mriga was the tenth and optional one. 

“What is Kanjak Puja Mom!?” Mriga questioned innocently before the ceremony.

“Nine young girls are welcomed into the house and are showered with delicious bhog and gifts. They are worshiped as the embodiment of the nine divine forms of Goddess Durga: Sailaputri, Brahmacharini, Andraghanta, Kusamanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalarati, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri.” I summarized the essence of it briefly. Mriga felt very important and mystified at the same time.

That day Mriga dressed up with all the glitters she could. We knocked at Somi’s house. It was beautifully decorated with marigold garlands, the aromatic waft of incense stick felt divine. A flock of little girls followed Somi to welcome one of their own — another Kanjak.

“Sorry Priya, but I already have Nine Kanjaks for today’s puja.” Somi asserted deliberately with a long explanation.” Mriga clutched my saree with apprehension and we left with an artificial smile. 

Today when Somi invited Mriga, I stood there in disbelief.

“But Mriga’s birthday is on ‘Nine/eleven’, and she might still be inauspicious for you.” I snarled with shrewdness. 

No one insults ‘MY’ Durga!


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