Friday, October 07, 2005

Of kaashphool and Pujor gondho

‘Tis that time of the year. I can almost hear the “kashor-ghonta” (gongs and bells for the Bengali uninitiated folks), visualize the “Sarater aakash” (blue skies with wispy white clouds), and smell the happiness that is all pervasive. Yes, it is Pujo time and I would be amiss if I did not write something about my favorite time of the year to be in Calcutta.

So what is it about Durga Pujo that makes every Bengali nostalgic, happy and sad at the same time? Why do Bongs go crazy just thinking about Pujo? There’s a song that goes “Pujor gondho eshechhe….” That alone could sum up the kind of feeling that is associated with Pujo. And trust me, Pujor gondho is something that seems to be unheard of outside of Bengal. I mean we try to simulate the conditions, make do with every available resource and yet, there is always something missing. The core of Durga Pujo is the atmosphere, the throngs of people who make Durga Pujo so special.

The highly charged atmosphere that almost beckons you to be a part of it, live it, feel it and be one with the feeling. The countdown probably begins a month in advance when shops stay open till late at night to accommodate customers with their shopping after office hours. You have to get new clothes and shoes. And you buy for all your near and dear ones. That is Pujo. You share your happiness with your loved ones. And during those five days everyone is out on the streets wearing the latest in ethnic and western wear. And of course by evening there are hundreds of women limping along thanks to the blisters caused by the new sandal. It’s all an integral part of “Thakur dekha”. Starting from “Chakhu daan” on Shasthi to “Kola-bou snan” on Saptami, “Shondhi Pujo” on Astami to “raat jege Thakur dekha” on Nabami. And “Thakur baran” , “Shidur khela”, “mishti mukh” and “kolakuli” on Bijoya Dashami. And yes thinking of “kaash phool” and “Shiuli Phool” and “Dhaker awaj” and “Dhunuchi naach” brings a tear to my eye. And even as I thirstily search the internet for a glimpse of my favorite pandels and Thakur, it is not the same as walking the streets of Calcutta from Ekdalia Evergreen to Hindusthan park to Triangular park and Samaj Sebi, from 23 pally to Mudiali to Garia Naba Durga and spending hours at Maddox Square checking out the guys (and girls) and eating out every day and not having to work or study for those five days.

And for those who can read and understand Bengali it is all summed up in this verse that someone sent me. I would give credit if I knew who wrote it, but whoever did managed to say it all and more…..

pujo manei pujor kodin porasuno bandho
pujo manei satsakale seulifuler gandho
pujo manei sandhyebela thakur dekhar bhir
hoichoi r utsabete chardeek asthir.
pujo manei patsalate bajlo chutir ghonta
pujo elei chhelebelai paliye fere monta.
pujo manei ma duggar asur nidhon pala
anjali r prosad petam pujor dupurbela.
pujo manei notun jama notun notun saaj
alpona r thakurdalan daaker sajer kaaj
pujo manei pujosankhya didir sathe aari
didi akhon onek dure,didir swasurbari.
pujo manei mahalaya kashfule math sada
pujo mane aponjoner tane poruk badha.
pujo manei sagar pahar ekchhutetei pari
swapne kakhon pouche jetam meghbhasano bari
pujo mane dhaker baddi,pujor bisorjon
asche bachor abar eso monkharaper mon.
ajke pujo anyorokom annobhabe ase
bhorer bela sisir pore? seuli gandho bhase?
hoito ase!hoito sabai bodle gechi aaj
bohumulya samoy akhon sabar bhison kaaj.
bhalo theko bondhura sab bondhu thakuk mone
pujor dine chelebela abar poruk mone.

pujoi jodi thako tumi gharer theke dure
bare bare barir katha ase ghure phire
baje nako dhak ekhane bajenako shakh
suninako hajar loker basto hakdak
pujor dine aamar ar tomar mukh
buker moddhe gumre othe bhison kono dukh
jodi ami petam duto masto baro dana
ure jetam sunnopathe, thaktonako mana
kakhon je ma elo ar kakhon galo chole
hajar rakom kajer chape sabi gelam bhule
tobu tumi eso mago eso barbar
asbe tumi bhebei moder sab akakar.

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Blogger eXPerience called L!FE said...

Hey M, thanks for stopping by on my blog...your blog takes me back to that year (cant remember the specifc year though) and the chill and thrills of my favourite city Calcutta (sorry cant still call it Kolkata). And day before yesterday my mom told me Navratras are starting... Since i moved to the western india the only festival i have missed is Durga puja of the east.
keep blogging,

4:33 PM  
Blogger DD said...

your post makes me sad...first time not being at home during a pujo hurts.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Casablanca said...

It comes 5 days early, but 'Shubho Bijoya' :)

11:32 PM  
Blogger Adarsh A. Varghese said...

Well I cant comprehend the tormment of Bengali, but then the English part of it is certainly well written.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Krishanu said...

poor u :(. i cant imagine how i wil feel if and when i will have to miss kolkatar pujo. your profile says that u r in the states. but i think i can safely assume that you spent at the very least, your schooldays over here. what do u do?

ps: adarsh, did u mean torment of bengali or torrent of bengali? if it was the first then i have a bone to pick with you...

1:55 PM  
Blogger Adarsh A. Varghese said...

oops! I meant a 'torrent'. So let the bones lie where they are!

11:30 PM  
Blogger rimi said...

you're so brilliantly evocative, m! you've done it again--you've made a bong in calcutta feel homesick :D

that chhora, as it were, is a collection of couplets that are published eveywhere during pujo. from pujabarshikis to hair oil ads!

11:37 PM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Nice. The chhawra is not bad; somehow the line about 'kokhon je Maa elo aar kokhon gelo choley reminded me of my few Pujos in exile.

Especially the one in New Jersey, which was hell despite being with some of my favourite people in the world.


7:07 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

Thanks guys! And thanks to russiaxp, dd, adarsh for visiting. Hope you keep coming back (I'll keep the torrent of Bengali at a minimum, I promise).
It is horrible to be out of Calcutta during the Pujo but with time you start getting used to it and promise yourself every Pujo that next year you most definitely will be in Cal for the occasion. Somehow...that never happens and you end up sitting miles away scanning the internet for any updates on Pujo and new pictures that let you live it up even if for a brief moment.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Grafxgurl said...

sigh.. so nice to hear ( read) bengali....i miss it so much. to hear it... Tamil is so crass.. sigh..

Hey M.. i might be going to good ol' Uncle Sam's house sometime in the coming year. hehhehe... ill need a Bong friend then!!

5:22 AM  
Blogger . : A : . said...

The festive season is here. Well written.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

A trifle late, but, Shubho Bijoya'r antorik preeti o shubhechha.
Went to Cal on a hurricane trip and then to Puri with friends. So didn't really get to see Kolkata'r pujo. But just being there on Ponchomi,Shoshti and Saptami morning, away from this fake-oh-so-fake Bangalore, was such a pleasure.
Can identify with yr longing to be there. Very evocatively written piece. Hope you can make it sometime soon.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Sorcerer said...

lekhata boddhoy purono hobe na... howar moto noy.. karon eta sotti... hothat kore kende fellam ar aj kannata thamchhe na.... sotti pujo jokhon dorgoray daariye ar ami jani na je ami firte parbo kina.... tokhon boddhoy kichhui korar thake na......
aj kende fellam .... ar parlam na.... ei onubhuti tukuke daabiye raakhte.....

bhalo thakben...

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ask me wat it feels to b away from kolkata durin pujas...its like killing me...i feel like taking the next flight to india back to those days where we used to hang around from 3 daz prior to pujas n eat all the junk food on the streets...havin adda in durga bari n maddox can make the strogest or people break into tears...cant write anything more...shobaike sharod shubechha

10:28 AM  
Blogger CrazyChica said...

Tomar blog ta pore khub bhalo laglo! :) I really felt nostalgic and wistful and I so wish I could go to Kolkata this very minute and be with my grandmother, relatives, cousins, & friends during this joyous time of the year! It's really ironic...I'm one of the unfortunate "Bengali's-in-exile" so to speak, who've spent almost their entire life outside of India and have never had the good fortune of going to Kolkata during Durga Pujo. How I wish I could leave everything and run there around this time of the year?! :) Somehow, New Jersey ya kono Pujo ei US er doesn't compare to I now realize! The warmth and the atmosphere is missing. Anyways, Asha kori tomra shobai Durga Pujo khub bhalo bhabe enjoy koro! Piyali

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3:49 PM  
Blogger Shilpi said...

I don't khow who has written this "puja mane"...when i first received it via mail from my friend..i really could not get the whole feel of it as i was in crowd of kolkata ......but right nw staying thousands miles apart from it....i just can feel it what actually mean by PUJA not only "dhakhur dekha " nor the "shidur khela"......but it is something else which starts from the rthym of the extreme corner of the life where you want keep connected to "phele asa past " you were in.....

puja mane chotto dupur astamir aalo
puja mane maner kone kharap lagar bhalo ...........

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4:35 AM  
Blogger neelakshi said...

hi m
this is the first time i am outside kolkata.i am really missing durga puja.i really liked ur brings tears to my eyes.enjoy durga puja whereever u r.

3:17 AM  

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