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Durga Pujo Isspecial - BongMom

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Tomorrow is Mahalya. Today, as I pulled the car out of the driveway, I rolled down the windows and sniffed the air. It was crisp, clean and yet I could faintly smell the shiuli, the tiny white flowers with their deep yellow stalks which carpeted the back garden at my grandma’s house.

This was the season they bloomed in abundance, pristine white, heady fragrance offering them for the Pujo. It was still dark and I listened intently. It was quiet except for the cars whooshing past, and I strained my ear to catch the faint sound of the drum, maybe the dhaaki would be playing a playful practice beat at this time of the day.

As the day dawned, the sky was overcast but the forecast predicted a clear blue with cotton clouds hanging around, just like Sharat er Akaash (autumn sky) and my heart skipped a beat. For a fleeting moment I thought of the crowds at the Puja Pandal back home, the Priest announcing the Anjali* over the microphone, the jostling for the flowers for Anjali, waiting in queue for the prashad and Durga Thakur’s face smiling down benevolently at me.

 

Durga Pujo always meant going back to my Baba’s home town in Bihar, to the address I had to write as “Permanent Address” in all my school forms. It meant days of waiting for the Puja Holidays to begin, of buying clothes and saris for the family, of my Baba’s very happy face and my Ma’s not so happy one(she would be away from her folks). The essence of Pujo would begin with Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s voice on Mahalaya at 4 AM over the air waves. The excitement would mount until a day before Shoshthi when we would pile up two rickshaws with suitcases and head for the Station, to board the train at an ungodly hour.

The five days of Pujo would pass with two trips to the Thakur Bari every morning and evening.

The tempo which was subdued at Shoshthi would gather a momentum by Ashtami the “Eighth Day of Navratri” and the most important Day of Durga Pujo. The Mandap would be charged with frenzied beats of the Dhak, Durga Thakur’s face would be glowing with Garjon Tel, her dark beautiful eyes would take a life of their own, the crowds would be at their peak and you felt a part of a huge celebration. Above the chanting of “Ya devi Sarvabhooteshu ”*** you could hear the announcer yelling “Guddu ki ma, aap jahan kahi hain, …” and you put in a prayer for the unknown little boy who was missing his mother. It was heady, invigorating and you did not have to be a believer to be with the crowd. And then came Dashami and you felt a deluge of sadness. As my Ma and my Aunts bade farewell to Durga, by offering her sweets and sindoor, I felt a pain. There was this immense sadness of a dear one leaving for a far off land. A sadness which could only be healed with the prospect of the sweets & savories earmarked for Bijoya Dashami.

Thus ended Pujo, but the effect lingered as we went around visiting relatives for Bijoya and sampling Nimki,Narkel Naru and ghugni at the umpteenth house. By the time we were tired of the deteriorating conditions of the Ghugni and the increasing hardness of the Narkel narus, it was Lakshmi Pujo and then time to go back home, to routine, to books, to exams. More than any mythology associated with Durga Pujo, I loved the folk lore which talks about Durga visiting her Mother’s home, the Earth, with her 4 children for a 5 day vacation every year. She felt like my Mother who too went back to her parents’ home once a year. I look forward to welcoming the daughter back to her Mother’s home every year in autumn and pamper her before bidding her a tearful farewell on dashami, when she goes back to her husband.

Wishing you all joy and happiness on the occasion and peace until Ma returns again next year.

- BongMom

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This article was first published here: http://www.bongcookbook.com/2007/10/durga-pujo-isspecial.html and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta – is author of the blog www.bongcookbook.com and the book “Bong Mom’s Cookbook” based on the blog by same name, published by Harper Collins.

Photo courtesy : www.bongcookbook.com 

Comments  

 
#2 Nandita 2013-10-08 20:55
Very nicely written, pujor nostalgia is something different..
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#1 Debarati chatterjee 2013-10-04 07:17
Thanks for writing to us Sandeepa.. Love the write-up and your book
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