Rathin Bhattacharjee



Rathin Bhattacharjee


Durga Puja at 41, Deblane, 2023

Durga Puja at 41, Deblane, 2023

7 mins

(4) Purity & Feminity


I feel like crying, dear reader. I spent two hours writing a piece for you last night. All my efforts ended in smoke as the write-up got deleted somehow.

No probs. I'll give it another try. It matters little if I have to skip dinner in the process. It doesn't matter if I finish writing it by 5 in the morning. You know me by now. I'll post it by 5 then but post this article I MUST.

So, what I was trying to convey to you through the lost piece was when I heard the wife of my nephew exclaim that she had a miraculous escape today, that God had saved her, I couldn't help chuckling out to myself. Who she calls by the name God is actually, Ma Durga in her situation. 

My nephew's wife, Rita, could have arrived at 41 this morning all broken and bandaged, after the fatal fall on the wet steps of Sealdah Station on her way to 41, had Ma Durga not come to her rescue. 

She retired to bed as soon as she arrived at 41, after a quick prostration before Ma's image in the thakurghar. She had unbearable pain around her waist in her back. She had some bruises all over. Fortunately for her, the affected area did not swell up. My nephew got really worried. We decided to take Rita to the chamber of the local physician at 7.30 in the evening when it opens normally. Someone applied Volini around her back. She fell asleep. On waking up, at around 6 in the evening she got out of bed as the evening Arati was going on. Her pain, she told us then, had subsided beyond belief. Some things in life are hard to explain!

My late father, Jogesh Chandra Bhattacharyya, started off the Durga Puja at 41 with Dadu, my paternal grandad's consent in the early 60s. Now, Durga Puja, dear reader, is a Massive Affair. To conduct The Pujas, you need manpower, money power, and Divine Intervention and Protection. 

Do you remember, dear reader, how Ma Durga came to 41 on Her own accord this year and triggered the proceedings? This evening sitting near the idol, I was startled when I kept looking from the image on the chowki in front to the one kept in a corner. Both looked identical with the only difference being that while One was colorfully attired, the Other was not! I could have sworn that the realization was more bizarre than anything that has dawned on me till now. I have decided to snap a photo of the two for your understanding at a more appropriate time.

Anyway, to come back to today's topic, which is, HOW and WHY Goddess Durga has Graced the people related to the household over the years. 

Baba was not really going through the best years of his life when conducting The Pujas on a grand scale from the 70s to the early 80s. 

He was forced to retire from service and spent the rest of his life fighting the Govt. of West Bengal till The Writers' Building had to be crocked to clear off the dues to him once the verdict was passed in his favour by the Calcutta High Court, had a life-threatening attack of gangrene. It must have been the worst period of his life. 

He started Conducting The Pujas at 41 then. Conducting such a massive affair on a grand scale, must have been the last thing on his mind, or was it? Even then, The Pujas, as far as I can recall them in all those years, were full of grandeur, color, life, and happiness! How was it possible? Some things in Life are hard to explain! Still let me give, what I am hopeful of conveying to you, a try.

It was possible because of Ma Durga. Ma Durga must have loved my parents's sense of selflessness, generosity, and compassion in times of poverty and difficulty. Baba, I heard it from someone, who once paid the money he had to borrow, to a person, who, he felt was in greater need of it! I am not cooking it up, dear reader. Some critics may disapprove of Baba's behaviour here. Why loan out borrowed money in the first place? But like I told you earlier, some things in life are hard to explain!

Yesterday, I had another proof that some people do believe, like me, the chosen one here, that The Durga Pujas at 41 have not only contributed to their general well-being but also to their prosperity, peace, and happiness. WAO! Let me now introduce you to my former teacher cum family friend, Shri Nityananda Roy…….

I met him for the first time when he joined Entally Academy way back in 1972! I still remember how he taught us English in the room next to the Assistant Headmaster's, on the left of the corridor from the entrance beside the staircase. 

As he turned up at 41 yesterday, I asked him just out of curiosity, to tell me his experiences of the Durga Pujas at 41, over the years. I'll try my best to reproduce verbatim what he told me, in this context.

His association with 41, The Pujas at 41 rather, dates back to the early 60s. He came to be friends with my brother pursuing his Master's at C.U. at that time through another common friend called Amiya Chakraborty, who later became the Headmaster somewhere in Chinsura. But the best of the lot in studies was one Promoth Chowdhury, who secured First Class in M.A. and went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Burdwan.

Most of them had 41 as their place of adda. Mr. Nityananda Roy and Sejda were very close friends. They would come to 41, change into a gamchha (kind of towel), wash their clothes, and spread them out for drying till they got out of the gamchhas (towels) and back into the dresses to attend to their respective errands. Life couldn't have been better!

During The Pujas, he told me, he would bring some 30-40 kgs of wheat, and 10 kgs of sugar and pay for those items from his own pockets. Sometimes, he would bring hilsa fish at Baba's bidding. Baba would have paid for them in advance and rarely bothered about if Nityananda Sir had to pay some extra money. Hilsa fish, he hastened on to add, were not expensive in those days.

Now, when you hear others talking about how they tried to contribute to The Pujas and help your parents, you don't really feel that happy. It is just human nature, dear reader. So, I was getting a bit jumpy of where his story was leading to, at that time.

Mr. Nityananda Roy, who was lying down on the marble rock, continued with his story. The Pujas at 41 in those days were unimaginable occasions. The house would be teeming with people from all walks of life. The atmosphere was surcharged with an air of love, fellow feeling, and well-being. Ma loved him and his wife dearly and the love was mutual. For the love of my parents and for the love he bore for my late Sejda, he proved more than a true friend during and after Sejda's tragic end.

He has proved himself to be a family friend all these years. He keeps bringing koi fish and sweets for The Pujas at 41 every year. A practice that has been going on year after year, for the last 58 years!

He comes with Baudi at such times. Sometimes he brings along his son, who is an engineer now. The last few years have witnessed an addition to the group in the form of his daughter-in-law, as graceful and serene as Baudi, Sir's wife.

Nityananda Da concluded his narration by saying that it was my late Baba, who, as the Secretary of Entally Academy, had him employed there.

I was stunned! There are still people, who acknowledge the contributions of others in their lives and feel happy about it, in the 21st century! Some things in life are hard to explain!

His narrative reaffirmed my love and respect for my late parents. It also reasserted my belief that The Ma Durga, Who keeps gracing 41, is Someone full of Benevolence, Compassion, Charity, and Generosity, beyond the comprehension of an ordinary mortal like "Yours truly".

Keep gracing this Temple of Learning & Heritage as long as SOMETHING IN LIFE IS NOT SO DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN, by YOUR GRACE.

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