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 !