Monday, September 29, 2014

Durga Pujo...Aaj 'Shoshti'...Aaj Baba retire hochchen!

30 September 2014

Its Sashti today. The day when the actual Durga puja begins for all the Bengalis. Durga Puja for me and for any other bengali is all about:

1: Loads of sweets: I remember Baba getting all the varieties available at bengali camp. I always hated goja and boondi and wondered why did Baba considered them as sweet. But the freshly made Roshogullas were my favourites.

2: Pujo Mondop: We hardly used to visit any other Pujo Mandap other than the one at Bengali camp. Simply for one reason that Baba was the secretary of the Bengali association which organised it.

3: Get together: Another reason why I loved Durga Puja was this. The puja mandap used to be the meeting point for all year lost friends. And as my childhood was a time of landlines. Most of them met like a pleasant surprise.

4: New clothes: A must for every Bengali. The whole mandap used to be filled with ladies wearing their best saree and jewellery.  I always preserved the new pujo'r dress for Ashtami morning.

5:Maha Prashad: Khichudi proshaad, mixed veg, paayesh and tomato chaatni....aahaaaa!!... Maa tried to prepare all of them at home many times but it never turned out as yummy as the Maha proshaad used to be. I heard some aunties speaking to my Maa once that even they tried to do so but no one can get the delicacy of Maha Proshad into their dishes.

6: Proshad Bitron: Serving dry prasaad to the huge crowd at the mandap was mine and my best buddies' favourite adventure. Sonu, Vivek, Supriya, Gautam da and me..... Nothing made us feel so condemned as doing this seva did.

Baba used to be busy with the preparations of the puja from almost a month before. We used to sleep without seeing Baba and wake up hearing that Baba has already left for bengali camp. Baba worked day and night. Money collection, gathering sponsors, getting the murtikar and the dhaakis, arranging all the things required from the huge list for the pujo and the never ending meetings. I saw Maa waiting for him till he came back home at night in my initial years. But then I think Maa got a little old to wait for him for so long. Baba had the same enthusiasm for each puja every year.He kind of had a joyous spark in his eyes in those days. From Sashti to Dashami he used to leave much before us and only came to pick us and then drop us back. Maa always insisted him to bow before Maa Durga. But he never did that. He said that the work that he does for the pujo was good enough.

Baba religiously worked for each and every Durga Puja and Kali Puja held by this association. We hated him doing this as this meant no time for us or even for Maa. But Baba continued doing this always until 4 years back he got a brain stroke and got paralysed. He was again at Bengali camp when he got the stroke. Since then he is at home.
Baba (now) with my daughter

Today is Sashti, the day when puja begins, the day when Baba was supposed to be the busiest. But today Baba is not at all busy. Today Baba is getting retired. He used to go to the office for two hours daily. And now he won't have to do that either. Today if I go home I will see him at home....before sleeping and after waking up. I no more hate the old time when he did not had time for us. I want him to go back and work day and night for Durga pujo again. His eyes are blank now. I want the spark of his eyes back. I want his enthusiasm back. I would never ask for his time again. But I want his old time back !

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Today is Mahalaya. I still remember those fresh Mahalaya mornings. Those were a little cold and a little cozy. Baba used to wake us up early in the morning, initially to listen to ‘Mahisasura Mardini’, the Chandi Paath on All India radio and later to watch it on Doordarshan. Every year the story looked absolutely fresh and new. Mahishasur, the son of King Rambha and Princess Mahishi pleases Lord God Brahma and asks for immortality in return. Lord Brahma refuses to make him immortal. However grants him the wish to choose his killer. Mahishasur then thinks a lot and asks for a boon to be killed by a woman as he thinks that a woman can never defeat a strong demon like him.
Maa Durga, was then took birth out Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva’s anger, to defeat Mahishasur.
Maa used to tell me that she has no idea whether this story or any of the mythological stories are true or not. But she believed that these stories had been our epics because they give us life- lessons. Yes every story has the same moral, ‘The victory of good (truth) over evil’. Ramayana had Shri Ram, who won over Ravana. Mahabharata had Pandus, who won over Kauravas. Then what is it different with Mahalaya? Yes it is Devi Durga. Mahalaya might have been made up to give all the demons that a woman can take your life. She can do what none of the men could do.
At the end of the story the Gods, rid of the demon showered Maa Durga with praises and prayed her to appear everytime they were in need of her. Maa Durga granted this wish and promised that she will come again if called with devotion.
The ‘Geeta saar’ says almost the same thing that Lord Krishna will return every time he is needed.
I don’t know much about Chirtianity or Islam but heard that even ‘Jesus’ and ‘Mohammad’ said the same things in Bible and Quraan respectively.

I often think was Nibhaya not calling devotedly Maa Durga while the brutal act was being commenced on her. Does Lord Krishna think that saving Draupadi from the disrespect against her was all he needed to do to eradicate Adharma from Bharata? When will Jesus let us celebrate Easter truly? And when will Mohammad come again to save us?