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Probasinir pujo

05 Oct

Read this post on the special event page on PreeOccupied‘s Beyond the Five Days of  Durga Puja

Image courtsey : http://bit.ly/9OIeSv

The golden sun is back in the azure sky,  casting longer shadows before disappearing on the horizon earlier than usual and the listless fleet of clouds lazily floats around, empty of their carriage. My window has a visitor every afternoon, who comes to play with my curtains and the wind chime and flirts with the nippy wind, a dragonfly. I find myself in Sharat again in my exile, in Pawrobas, in another’s land, waiting with bated breath for those five magical golden days of Anandamoyee‘s descent upon mother Earth, among us Bengali mortals.

Watching the long rays of the sun casting a spell upon the dragonfly, a desire arises to return to the golden afternoons of yore, when I would, in my careless days of girlhood, find joy in the pages of the new Pujabarshiki, a collection of novels, stories, poems by the leading literati of Bengal, published about a month ahead of the festival.

Those would be in the days that preceded the days marked in red on the calender as the days of Durga Pujo. In between drowning in and surfacing from the Pujabarshiki, I would flit between rooms, touching the softness of my grandma’s Gawrod, admire yards of my mother’s swishing tussar, swoon over her crisp Tants and Dhakais, try on her new slippers and yearn to grow into them, smell her new perfumes, try on her new nail paint. All this while two neat piles of crisp, new clothes and two Pandora’s boxes awaited to be handed out to us, my sister and I, on the morning of Shashti. Those boxes would remain a well kept secret till then. And when we did open them in all our girlhood eagerness, out would tumble things that the two little girls wished and prayed for, to transform into grown-ups for those five magical days.

The hneshel, or the family kitchen would be a buzzing bee-hive, my grandmother would already be filling up her korir boyam or ceramic jars of all shapes and sizes with various forms of delicacies – gawja, , kucho nimki, labanga latika, dalmut, pnaraki and sandeshes of various flavours and designs, for all those who would visit us during the festive days with or without a reason. A month had already gone in the ritual of exchanging Ruli, sindoor and alta among the much married womenfolk. The drum rolls on the dhak would start in the little hearts already when my grandfather would spend the Shashthi morning counting crisp new notes of small denomination and set them aside, with my grandma, to be handed over to the his brigade of grand children of all shapes and sizes.

But a score and a few years later, the known boundaries had suddenly changed into the unknown, the accepted norms and rituals had become distant as I found myself in another’s land, in pawrobas. That year, on a fine Sharat morning, there I was with tears streaming down my cheeks, sitting amidst a pile of photographs, some coloured, some black and white, full of smiling faces, stolen moments, frozen loving glances from the life that had gone by Festivity was once again in the air and the sun was sharp and golden in the heart of the Bong ghetto in the South of Delhi.

It was Shashthi, on that day of Sharat in 1998 and a pot of  Shiuli was in full bloom in Roy Mashima’s balcony next door. It was Durga Pujo in the Bong ghetto, in Chittaranjan Park but it was business as usual for the rest of the city. This Bangalini, in her Pawrobas was yearning for home. It was my first Durga Puja away from Kolkata and away from my loved ones and it seemed as if the world had come to an end. To make things a little more difficult the Bee had left for a short trip the previous evening with a promise to return on Saptami. A box had arrived by courier that morning, neatly wrapped in brown paper which lay unopened, my new silks, tussars and dhakais lay strewn on the bed, crying for my attention and DD2 Bangla blared away with a live telecast of Kolkata Durga Puja Porikroma.

And then as if to answer my prayer, the telephone rang and my mother’s soft voice asked me, “Have you received the brown paper box as yet?” Realisation dawned and a long conversation later I happily returned to the unopened Pandora’s box, revisiting the wonders of my girlhood again. And among all things womanly and festive lay the edition of that year’s Pujabarshiki.

The Bee too decided to return an evening earlier, just to surprise the grief-stricken Probasini and to make her Pujo with him a memorable one, in Pawrobas.

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20 responses to “Probasinir pujo

  1. PreeOccupied

    October 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Got a lump in my throat. The writing is so vivid, I was transported into your childhood and then the CR Park “ghetto”, I lived in Green Park, for me CR Park was a whiff of fresh air when I needed to feel like a Bengali.

     
    • Rose Tinted Glasses

      October 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

      Dear Pree, I think for a crazy Durga Pujo loving Bong, nothing less than being in Kolkata for those five days will ever do. But I have never gone back in the last dozen years, it will have to be sometime in the future. That year, on my first Durga Pujo, outside my boundaries did bring the smile back perhaps only because I was staying in C R Park. When I did step out of my misery, put on my Pujo fineries and stepped out I was not sad anymore 🙂

       
  2. Kalyan

    October 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    My first pujo alone was in ’97. Tried to lose myself in work and ignore the fact that it was Pujo. Not difficult in Mumbai. Till I went to the Bandra Pujo one evening. Saw Usha Uthap perform. And then bawled. OK, shed a tear or so. And not because of the singing.

    Went to Shivaji Park the next day and was taken in by a kind Bengali Family I knew for Doshomi and went for the Navy Nagar Bhashan. The stress got to me and I fell sick. Luckily they were there to look after me.

    Post which I never missed a Pujo in Calcutta. then I grew up. Going back to Cal for the Pujos after quite a few years. But doesn’t feel the same without the friends one gre up with

     
    • Rose Tinted Glasses

      October 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      Kalyan, that was the first Pujo I spent outside Kolkata, and have never gone back to Kolkata during Durga Puja ever since. In Delhi and Bombay one is spoilt for choice when it comes to Durga Puja. So though it is nothing compared to Kolkata, but I do have my share of Durga Puja in ‘Pawrobas

       
  3. Sushobhan Mukherjee

    October 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Seems too close for comfort this time, when I will be missing Puja in Cal. Over the past decade, have made it a point to go back home to Cal to be with parents. I can’t handle the crowds anymore but still crave the food & the arati. Guess have to check out prabasi-r pujo here. This year.

     
    • Rose Tinted Glasses

      October 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      Dear Sushobhan, hope it’s only this year that you miss the Kolkata pujo, and if not the crowd, whatever else that you miss about the Pujo back home 🙂 Some day I hope to be back there too, something that I have told myself in all these twelve years, so someday I’ll be there, in the midst all the chaos, tripping over being happy…

       
  4. m k baig

    October 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    i was spellbound after reading it. @circars

     
  5. Gunjan Bagaria

    October 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Although a non-bengali, I was born and brought up in Kolkata until i shifted to Mumbai after my marriage in late 2006…I really can feel every bit of the nostalgia of Durgapujo & really wish I could be there with my parents and enjoy the festival which is so full of sweetness/ fragrances/ colors/ food/ music/ and last but not the least love of you Bengalis…May Maa Durga bless all with her generosity and wisdom…

     
  6. Priya

    October 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    The writing surely stirs up those emotions which, I’m sure many of us, have stored away in a corner of their heart.My pawrobas is a bit further away,in the US.When I was in Kolkata, a naturelover,I hardly had the time to feel Sharotkal,thanks to global warming.But here,the leaves are changing there colors,a variety of kashful (is it actually kashful or a distant cousin?) is visible at times,a crispyness is in the air.I remember those childhood and adolescent years, mainly 80’s, when mom would insist on wearing something warm at night and I was adamant as it would spoil my style.Those 5 days meant no studies,reading my Anandomela pujabarshiki without reminders that the final exams are just after the school reopens after Bhaiphota.
    Today, eventhough I miss home, I’m thankful that I have the priviledge of being in a place where atleast I can bow my head before MA.

     
  7. Ravi Upadhye

    October 7, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Its touching and so vivid.
    Though I am not a Bengali.it brought back the memories of my childhood Diwali celebrated in simple town where I lived amidst endearing folks.I could correlate your sense of loss because I too spent rest of my life in Noida.
    Beautiful

     
  8. KS Bagchui

    October 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Really , we Probashi’s are of-course not on the main stream, but we celebrate our “Durga-Pijo” in a grand way. I am from Lucknow and a life member of the 130 year old ‘ Bengali Club and Young man’s Association’. At our club pujo starts from ‘Ponchumi’ with a grand ‘Anondo – Mela’ a fate organized by our ladies wing. rest of the five days passes away like a ‘Hurricane’ I have some of the glimpse of previous year’s on my Google photo- page (http://picasaweb.google.co.in/ks.bagchi/DurgaPuja2009#)

    Nomoskar and wish you all a very ‘Happy Durga-Puja2010’

     
  9. KS Bagchi

    October 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Pl. Correct the Name: KS Bagchi

     
  10. KS Bagchi

    October 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    see some of my pick @ Bengali Club and Young man’s Assosiation, Lucknow a 130 years old club outside Kolkata. (http://picasaweb.google.co.in/ks.bagchi/DurgaPuja2009#)

     
  11. neerja

    October 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Soma…
    i am enthralled
    your words make it so vivid
    the colours the smells the eagerness of the little hearts
    transport me,
    a non bengali
    into the excitement
    of Durga Puja in your homeland!

     
  12. Nilanjana

    October 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Soma di….
    I don’t know how to express my emotions after reading these… my eyes have become a bit blurry with water…. you have taken me back to my childhood. I was already missing my parents and all my relatives… now I’m missing them even more… 😦 the last time I was with my Ma and Baba during the Pujo’s was in the year 2003….
    If I could, I would enter a time machine and go back to my “Meyebela” to re-live those days again (but with my baby with me… 🙂 )
    thank you for sharing these writings….. love reading through every single one of them… time and again…
    Have a wonderful Navratri and a very Happy Durga Pujo. my love and blessings to Rim.

     
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