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What does Durga Puja mean to me? - Anasuya Bhattacharjee


Let’s see! I don’t think I can ever describe the feeling in one sentence. It’s a series of random flashes of my childhood days.  One vibrant visual is that of tightly holding onto my mother’s hand as we walked through the suffocating crowded streets of Gariahat for the pre-pujo shopping. Gariahat is the Mecca of saris, one that my mother still swears by. I still do not understand why she needed me to accompany her there every year. I have always disliked bustling crowded areas and insisted she go by herself but she somehow always managed to bribe me with a future promise of ‘chaat’ from Ganguram’s if I went along.  She also always promised me that she would buy at least one sari of my choice! I never believed that would happen but at least she kept her ‘Chaat’ promise!  In retrospect, I think she wanted someone familiar next to her in the sea of strangers to share in her joy of shopping.


The other thing that comes to mind is the wonderfully invigorating fragrance of ‘Shiuli flowers. In my mind’s eye, as I write, I am waking up one crisp, sunny autumn morning to their intoxicating perfume. The memory of home! My mind now drifts to those 4 days of Puja Celebrations. How my heart and spirit would bloom to the sound of Dhak and to the clamor of the amplifiers reciting the spiritual chants. I remember my immense exuberance getting dressed up in one of my mom’s saris to go out on Ashtami morning! I remember my mother strictly warning me not to spill any food on her sari as she pins up my ‘aanchol’, or this would be the last time she ever lent me any of her saris to wear. I remember carrying the piping hot khichudi bhog in a ‘shaal pata’ bowl home for my father who never took much of an interest in visiting our neighborhood celebrations but yet wanted to taste the bhog and then there was the pandal hopping in the evening. Oh! I can see the city dressed up like a bride, like a canvas splattered with beautiful colours all around. My little sister holding my hands tight, effacing the chances of losing me in the crowd. Even though I went out with my group of friends she was my tag along much to my disapproval. I remember her endless questions about how the idols were made, shipped, how many days it took to construct the pandal, does Maa Durga stay under water for the entire year? Her mind could keep coming up with questions!  Dolled up in a pretty dress, my hair ornamented beautifully, I would gaze in awe at the larger than life idols and the majestic pandals. Then of course, the aroma of the mouth watering dishes distracting me hungry- Chicken roll, chips, candy floss, puchka…ahh! The never ending choices!! These memories so imprinted are never to fade away from my mind.

I realize as I write that my thoughts are random, frenzied and scattered, non-linear! But then, isn’t this how all of us think when we think about good old Pujo Celebrations back home? Just the thought sends a shiver through my spine and make my eyes wet. They make me long to get back to the frenzied spirit of the puja, the smell of the city of joy, to those memorable days left far behind. 

We Probashi Bangalis, no matter residing in whichever corner of the world, have our very own puja memories. Thus here remains this warm request, post in and share your dearest puja memories with us. This blog is yet another effort from the Amar Pujo members to make you all feel at home, far from it!! Have a great puja. Cheers! Bhattacharjee

About Anasuya:

My name Anasuya but I am nothing like the definition of my name! (ie someone who is free from envy and jealousy). I take immense pride in calling myself a true bong (barishali bangal  to be precise) though I am hardly any good with the language. I cannot imagine my life without food and music. Be it Rabindra Sangeet or ‘Electro House’ you will find every genre of music in my ipod. I love cooking in my free time and I secretly aspire to be a pastry chef someday. I hate math with a passion! I have been clumsy and messy all my life so the thought of cleaning my wardrobe gives me nightmares! I love making people laugh and enjoy the company of fun loving people; however I equally relish deeply philosophical addas. In a nutshell I would describe myself as true Saggittarian – vibrant, optimistic, borderline insane and always in search of life’s deeper mysteries ;)


#6 shovini 2013-10-28 18:26
very well written.. 100% agreed with "about anasuya" section
#5 Bidisha 2013-10-11 09:31
Beautifully written.
#4 Nandita 2013-10-08 21:59
Wonderfully written.. satyee pujo r nostalgia is always a mixed bag, anondo o lage, koshto o hoi..
#3 Anuradha Sen 2013-10-06 18:13
I think for all probashi Bangalis, living in any corner of the world, Durga puja is also an annual celebration of our nostalgia and childhood memories. Your eloquent expression of your memories was a pleasure to read, and will make your readers smile with their own personal ones.
Cheers to you too!
#2 Debopriya 2013-10-04 18:40
Well expressed ,i have the similar feelings around Puja time...Gariahat and New market experience is so dear to me..
#1 Anindita 2013-10-04 15:48
Amar Pujo is lucky to have some talents like you... I wish I have this kind of word power ...... Amar pujo rocks!!!

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