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Here’s wishing for a bright new sun and it’s a new day for me and a new beginning hopefully. I may still have my inhibitions, but when I look back, blogging has given me some creative satisfaction and a way to unwind myself and top it with you lovely people who check my feeds. Hopefully, this phase will bring good charm and positive feedbacks from you readers, although I have embraced your negative feedbacks as well in past also. So, towards a new bright horizon, my journey continues.
Picture is of Sovabazar Raj Bari Puja which was captured in year 2008 by DH.
This is that time of the year when everything seems so nostalgic. Autumn and Sharad means “Sharodoutsab” for every Bengali .Yesterday was Mahalaya.So, the reverse countdown has started.
When asked to narrate about Pujo nostalgia, every Bengali would go on. And I am no exception. A very touchy topic and so many memories are associated with it. To live the memories of those golden four days, I close my eyes and rewind to those lovely days. I see a girl, at the doorstep of adulthood, giggling with her friends. And seeing herself draped in a beautiful yellow colour tant’er saree quite amused by her this new image. She often starts imagining is it me or somebody else.
She tries to capture what happened on Shashti “the Bodhon day”. She remembers wearing new clothes crisp and pristine, a new pair of white high heeled sandals from Bata. And recalls that in the morning, her mother and all her Jethimaa and kakimaas observing “Shashti pujo” under Bel Tree. She then visualizes breaking of the fast and offering each other “phol prasad” amidst laughter and teasing.In the afternoon she remembers her mother making narkol diye Cholar Dal, luchi and Begun Bhaja, a Niramish meal for Shashti.
And on Saptami she starts visualizing old “Purot moshayi” placing “Kola Bou” on Puju mandap’e amidst Pujo Mandap gossip. She recalls how she hurriedly finished her lunch of Phulkopi Diye Mong’er dal, Chorchori and Payesh, to meet up with her friends for the dance and "Natok/Jatra" rehearsals. The rehearsals were meant for Barwari Cultural programme which would be staged everyday from Shashti till Nabami.The funny part of saptami’s Jatra, she remembered her Jhonto Da’s false moustache coming out while portraying a role of a rich Jamindaar and seeing this entire audience breaking into laughter.
And then in the evening “Sandhi Pujo” surrounding with the magical sounds of Dhaks and Dhakis roaring to the beat of Dhak.Then getting on with her friends together for a quick session of Puchka outside Pujo Mandap. And then realizing that your first crush has just come up with his gang of friends and is awed at looking at you with that pretty saree.She visualized looking little embarrassed, with mouth full of Puchka.A sudden urge to smile and then playing Hide and seek. They almost were bumping with each other while having puchka, she and her friends’ then move towards the Pujo Mandap to watch “Dhanuchi Dance”. All her friends eagerly waiting for their turns and asking her to hold their luxurious purses not designed by Gucci or Armani but ten days ago, bought in a good bargain from New Market. As for she, she is happy to cheer them up with whole lot of noises and applauses.
On Asthami, after Pushpanjali, she realizes that it’s time for some Pujo Pandal Hopping. She asks her Nirmal Kaku for car keys. Sensing trouble her Nirmal Kaku asks her to hire a taxi and go with friends and come back within a time frame of 2 hours. She and her friends came back from pandal hopping, all tired and exhausted. And then the ultimate bliss in the world. With her family and friends amidst laughter, teasing and fun, they would sit in queue on floor and have Ashtami Bhog’er Khichuri.On “Shal Patar Thala” they would be served Khichuri, labra and Chutney and jol in matir kulhar by her Parar Kaku and Jethu and all the Dadas.In the evening while lighting 108 diyas, her mother and kakimaa would sometimes ask them to help.
On Nabami, some more pujo pandal hopping with family. They would then stop for sometime at the near by Barwari who are competing with their own Barwari for best “Pujo Pandal” and “Protima” competition organized by the Bengali association of the city. She realized that the “Hom jagyo” on nabami has just finished in that barwari..And “Purot moshayi” is putting Hom ‘er tilak on everybody’s forehead. She and her family is blessed by Porot moshayi with hom’er tilak.She visualizes herself sitting with her family and being served Rui Mach’er Jhaal,ilish mach and bandhakopir chorchori and Vegetable pulao and Mishti Doi by her mother and Choto Kakimaa.
In the evening, sandhi pujor aroti amidst sounds of dhak and divine smell of dhuno, a mesmerizing effect produced by the sight of “May’er aproop shondoryo” (beauty of Goddess) and Smell of dhuno.
This is the last day of the extravaganza. And on Vijayadashmi she remembers her mother, Jethimaas and kakimaas playing with Sindoor, smearing each other with sindoor on cheeks and forehead amidst laughter and fun. They would then seek blessings from elders; in return elders would offer them some Sandesh or Kalakand.
And then with tearful eyes and somber heart bidding farewell to eternal "Anandomoyi, Karunamoyi"... ”Maa ashche Bochor abaar esho”…..
On the day of Vijayadashmi she remembers her mother and her kakimaa, would make mangsho and Chingri mach’er pulao for lunch.In the evening , her mother and her kakimaas would make mangsho diye ghughni , vegetable chop and nimki in bulk as hers was a joint family with even distant relatives and “Ashritos”.They all would be going to other relatives and friends home for Shobho Vijayadashmi.They would continue to visit each other till it’s time for Kojagori Lakshmi Pujo.
Vivid memories are coming alive and suddenly she realizes that she is far far away from the warmth of that familiarity. In a foreign land amidst coldness, she hears echoes of her friend’s giggle, hustle-bustle of a laid back city, dhak’er sound and some familiar noises at the Pujo mandap.And she visualizes having lots of fun while Dhanuchi dance and tearful sobbing at the time of "Bishorjan"-“Bolo Durga Mayi Ki jai”…………..
All memories keep coming to her mind like kaleidoscopic memories, dancing to create vivid patterns that are inter-connected. Patterns that life journey so far, bestowed upon her.
( Above mentioned facts and incidents are partially fabricated .This post is going to PJ , who is hosting 5th edition of Chalks and Chopsticks.Details can be found Here .The event was conceptualized by Aqua .
And also to Pree who is hosting her first event-Beyond Five days of Durga Puja .Visit here for more details.)
Recipes mentioned in this post are-
Luchi Cholar Dal and Begun Bhaja
Lao Shak'er Chorchori
Rui Mach'er Jhaal Koraishuti diye
Mangsho Diye Ghughni
Chingri Mach'er Pulao
Sharodiya Shubhecha O Priti