Durgo Pujo-Maa Aschein
Durgo Pujo-Maa Aschein
The aromatic smell of Dhunuchi, the smoggy weather, the sound of bursting Capps, the augmentation of Puja holidays form an integral part of my childhood memories. Durga puja is round the corner. The best part of the year, festivities all around, a sense of fun and frolic ... "Ma Aschein."
Everything seems to come to a standstill during Pujo. It's an electrifying feeling which only a Calcuttan can understand. Born into a traditional Tamil family it was a time to celebrate the union of the south Indian culture (Navratri/Golu) and the Bengali culture(Durgo pujo). I was indeed lucky to grow up in an environment which was a fusion of the South and the East.
The bamboo polls upon every nook and corner would give goosebumps. The beautiful lights put on the streets, the non-stop buzz at New Market and Gariahat, the unending stream of people in the metro stations. It was a time of the year to forget all your worries and immerse in the emotion called Durgo Pujo.
Panchami would be the day me and my childhood best friends Rima and Shreya would plan our Pujo Parikrama within our neighbourhood. We were not allowed to go too far by ourselves. The excitement on Shashti morning is unforgettable. Miss my childhood best friends. No pressure of school exams and the so-called rat race. It was a 5 day holiday from all stress and pain.
A time to have heartful addas at the pujo pandal, to flaunt your new pujo shopping and to look the best. The sound of the Dhak, the vivid view of the Puchka Walas and the never-ending crowd at the egg roll stalls. It used to feel as if the entire city was yours and the entire Pada was your family.
The resonating sound of the purohit from the pandals saying the mantras as loud as he could to make sure that all the Adda prone youth gather in the pujo pandal to give anjali. My day would start with amma's musical "lalita Sahasranamam" chanting at home and end with "Namastasyai, Namastasyai, Namastasyai Namo Namaha "at the pujo Pandal.
Just before Sashti wherever you go the standard sentence would be "Pujor Pode." The lovely Prosad at pujo pandal would be simply awesome. Hot Khichudi with a dollop of ghee and labra on Shaal patha would just make your day. As a child, I remember being totally spooked out by the Mahisasur. I would try to affix my gaze on Ma Durga, Ganesh, Karthik, Saraswati and Laxmi and try to believe that the Asur does not exist in the big picture.
Visiting Pujo Pandals at Mudiali, Rashbehari, Behala would be my favourite since those trips would be accompanied with visits to relatives and cousins; meeting my cousins would add up to the fun and festive feeling.
Growing up in Kolkata is a blessing in itself. The communal harmony is at its peak during this time. Bhashan would be fun in its own way but then It would be a heralder of the culmination of the celebration. Shindoor Khela would be an important event before Bhashan. The sound of processions of Durga ma going back home would be heart rendering but the sound of the band, music, loudspeaker at its full blast would put back a happy feeling reminding you that Kali pujo is just around the corner!!
I am miles away from Kolkata. It's been 17 years since I witnessed the magic of Durgo pujo. I relive those days by narrating the events from my deeply etched memories to my twins. They enjoy Golu/Navratri celebration at home ... they see Ma Durga idol in my golu display and ask me to tell them more stories of my days in Kolkata during Durga Puja. I grew up in this lovely city not knowing that I am building memories of a lifetime which I will remember through the tales to my twin boys.
A big thanks to the BA DFW-Bengali community in Dallas to help me relive those magical days back home!! Really appreciate the community putting together a nice online cultural event during these difficult Corona times. Maa Aschein and all will be fine. Durgo Pujo this year will bring more positivity and peace for sure!!!