The Amazing Great Bengali Festival is Back !!!!
So its that time of the year again !When the rich fragrance of the Harsingar lies heavy in the air , the humid ,wet rainy mornings giving way to slightly nippy dawns , of shorter days and of impending festivities ..The other day on our way back from the market , my husband suddenly remarked , “See that smell is back . This smell marks the advent of Pujo” .
My introduction to Pujo happened during my growing years in Bhopal .Every year for Pujo my parents & I would trudge to The Local “Kali Bari ” to check out the Books at the Ramakrishna Mission stall & to buy “shiny- cellophane-wrapped bows & arrows , swords” and other such knick knacks . In the later years my Dance performances were the reason to visit the Pujo Pandal. Whatever be the reason Pujo was an annual feature in my calendar .
Now that I am married to a Bong , I know ,the Bong Pujo connect is way , way different . Bong Pujo is about unlimited food , new clothes , pandal-hopping , gift exchange ..The countdown to Pujo sends a frisson of excitement through them ..One month before Pujo , women ask each other whether they have started Pujo shopping . And mind you a month before Pujo is when “Shraddh” starts .Shraddh traditionally being the time to pay homage to one’s ancestors , a time of remembrance , of austerity . In North India , this is the time when people put off all shopping & avoid any auspicious activity . So if at this time , one does go shopping , one would encounter only Bongs of all ages , sizes , hues clammering away to seize the best deals , the best saris , the best of everything . CR-Park , the Bong oasis in Delhi also has the annual Pre-Pujo exhibition at this time . The exhibition showcasing the only other Bengali obsession, second only to food , “Saris ”.. Of wispy Dhakai Jamdanis , the painstakingly embroidered Kanthas , of the brilliant Ikkats & Bomkais of Orissa , Of Mahabharath Tales in the Balucharis …
This year both of us have applied for 1 week leave from our office for the whole of next week to celebrate Pujo .
1 day before the start of Navrathri is celebrated as Mahalaya . Mahalaya marks the start of the Devi’s journey to her paternal house . The Bong Pujo begins on Shashti and ends on Dashmi after the distribution of “Shanti Jal” . While the rest of India fasts on Navrathris , reads the Chandi Path , practices abstinence for the senses , for the Bongs this is a time of unfettered merriment & indulgence . Since no festivity is complete without Non-veg food , this also means unlimited mutton rolls , Dimer devil, Mutton ghugni , Mughlai Paratha , Fish fries … For me this is a time of conflict . Coming from an almost vegetarian household where everything auspicious is mandatorily vegetarian the dilemma of whether to have or not have is a killing one ..My husband is very understanding though ..He leaves it to my better judgment.. :)
How can I forget the Cultural Aspect of the Pujo ..Blowing Conches , Dhaak & Dhanuchi Dance are integral Pujo elements. The Highlight of the Pujo is the Adult Skit as per my Husband . Replete with raunchy dialogues & Double entendres , leaving the audience gasping for breath & asking for more ..Of course there are other events too catering to the interests of all ages , “Drawing , Singing , Music competitions for Kids & adults alike ..It is the one Annual phenomenon that’s brings all Bongs together ..Last Year my Little one also won “Solah-anna Bangali” tag for being dressed as the quintessential Bengali in the “Fan-type-Dhoti” with an Angarakha Kurta ..
4 days of gaiety & festivity come to an end on Dashmi . Durga receives a warm & sometimes a tearful send off , with cries of “Aasche Bochor aabar Hobe” meaning “ Next Year again this shall repeat” ….
#Pujo ,#Durga Puja,#Navrathra ,#Bengalis,#CR Park ,#Pujo Pandal ,#Dhaak,#Dhanuchi