Aarti, prasaad, condom balloons to please Damdami Mai at Hindu’s Virgin Tree ‘puja’

Students dancing on dhol beats to please Damdami Mai (BCCL)Students dancing on dhol beats to please Damdami Mai (BCCL)
With Valentine’s Day falling on Tuesday, several DU students bunked classes to attend the traditional Damdami Mai ki puja, an integral part of Valentine’s Day celebrations on campus, at Hindu College‘s famous Virgin Tree. When we asked these DU devotees about how many of them were actually single, they quipped, “Single or committed – yeh dil maange more!”

Sudents performing Damdami Mai ki puja at Hindu College’s Virgin tree on Valentine’s Day (BCCL)

Dear Virgin tree, please take away my virginity: Students
As per rituals, hostel fresher Shaktipal Singh, a first-year student, was given the responsibility of conducting ‘puja’. Shaktipal, who dressed like a pandit and even wore a dhoti, told us, “This is the first time that I’m performing any kind of puja. Par Virgin Tree ke liye toh banta hai.” When asked if his girlfriend knows about this ritual, he said, “No, she doesn’t, as I don’t even have one. I feel lucky that I got an opportunity to do this puja. I prayed to the tree, and asked it take away my virginity. Now, I’m confident that since I’ve performed the rituals, I will find a girlfriend within the next six months.”

Students from other colleges also attended the puja and sang aarti to please Damdami Mai. The tree was decorated with condoms filled with water. The ‘pandit ji’ told us, “It’s holy water. After the puja is over, this water is sprayed over all the students present here.”

Shaktipal Singh, a college fresher dressed as a pandit was given the responsibility of conducting the ‘puja’ (BCCL)

Pyaar ke dushman not allowed at this puja
The students ensured that ‘pyaar ke dushman’ (the lecturers) were kept away from this side of the campus. Kalpita Kachroo, a third-year student of the college said, “This is like a hide-and-seek game. The puja is obviously not official, but the teachers know about it and they can’t allow it to happen, so the decorations are done late at night by the hostellers.”

Students clicking selfies with Damdami Mai’s poster (BCCL)

‘We look for ‘oomph factor’ in our Goddess’

In the past, the title of Damdami Mai has been conferred on actresses like Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Lisa Haydon and Urvashi Rautela. Disha Patani was selected as Damdami Mai by the college hostellers. When asked about the criteria for selecting Damdami Mai, the hostellers were quick to respond, “Oomph factor!” Vaibhav Singh, a second-year student at Hindu College, who was part of the organising group, said, “Popular voting is another factor that decides the ‘goddess’. We vote in the hostel, and whoever gets the maximum number of votes becomes our goddess.”

Alongside Disha Patani’s poster, there was another poster of Hrithik Roshan. While the organisers said it is part of the tradition, a few others said that it shows that the puja is open for students of all genders and sexual preferences. Once the puja was over, the students assembled near the Science block of the college to shake a leg on reverberating drum beats and a student pointed out, “Valentine’s Day ka asli aashirwaad to yahan milta hai.”