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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Durga Pujo


It’s my most favourite time of the year....my BESTEST pujo is here....Durga Pujo, the biggest event for any Bengali anywhere on the globe!!!!!

You will find us Bengalis spread across all parts of the globe, many times it is difficult to differentiate a 'probashi baangali' (a Bengali who lives outside Bengal) as they will be completely in sync with the place they live in. But come Durga Pujo and it is utterly impossible to let that Bengali spirit remain within, if you are a Bengali, your Bengali-ness will reflect in all its splendour for all the days of the Pujo.
Suddenly, everywhere you look around, you will notice to your surprise, that the place is teeming with Bengalis of all ages. The elder ones will be typically recognised by the 'shaakha-pola' on their hands (those red and white bangles that are a sign of matrimony in bengalis), the younger lot will suddenly be sporting a traditional look, the get-up complete with a saree, big bindi and traditional accessories and those lovely big kaajal-lined Bengali eyes that are so hard to miss. The young men will typically be dressed in lovely kurta pyjamas, especially the toshor ones on the day of Ashtami.

I remember, when we were young, Pujo for me and my brother would begin much before the real festivities started. The beginning of Durga Pujo would be announced by the mahaloya, for which my parents would wake us up in the wee hours of pre-dawn, sometime around four-thirty, five in the morning, and we would listen intently to the heavy baritone singing and chanting shlokas and hymns from the other side of the air waves, we would be sleepy-eyed, still in bed, covered in the sheets (for winter too would begin its arrival with the advent of the Pujo), and most years, we were already back asleep even before the mahaloya had finished.
Ma baba would wake us up earlier than other holidays, we would grumble, but would then remember it was Pujo day and would quickly be done with the bath, to change into new clothes. It was an event we looked forward each year, those were not the times when we did shopping through the year like its done now. Durga Pujo meant we would go shopping with ma baba and we would get our new set of clothes, we looked forward to this special shopping trip, curious to know what kind of dress we would be wearing in this year’s Pujo.
Durga Pujo meant freedom for ma from the kitchen, no cooking at home, baba would get breakfast from outside and after we had had our fill, we would all leave for the pandals. The smell of the dhuno the beats of the dhaak and the divine eyes of Durga would transform us all into a magic world, a world from where we had no intention of returning soon. Some time later the stalls would open up and we would hog on the mughlai paranthas and the egg rolls and the chops and the fish fry. The book stalls were always a big pull as we would eagerly wait the whole year for the Pujo edition of ‘Anandomela’ and ‘Shuktaara’.
The music stalls would play songs from the latest artists and Pujo specials.
We would go from one pandal to the other and after lunch at one of the pandals we would head back home for a short rest, before waking up in the evening and changing into a set of fresh clothes and head for another pandal. Various cultural events and entertainment is planned for the Pujo, hence we always had a great time watching live shows and performances by renowned artists. After that we would head for a snack or dinner, and then again more pandal hopping.
How I hated it when the day of Dashami arrived, the day Durga would go back to her husband’s home, the day she would be immersed.
We would all begin looking forward to next year’s pujo from right that moment on.

How I miss those days now. Grown-up and so unable to enjoy those special moments. Caught up in work and responsibilities. Wish I could go back in time for Durga Pujo at least.
So I am happy that my daughter too has started loving Durga Pujo. She loves the sound of the dhaak, loves the fish and the food associated with Bengal and Durga Pujo and loves to dress up and visit the deity. I look forward to re-live my childhood Durga Pujo memories with her now.

Wish you all a very happy Durga Pujo!!!