October 18, 2010

Probash e Pujo

Since I have started working for SNDU, my Pujo has been highly erratic. Sometimes, I manage to go back home, sometimes the images and the colours of Pujo come knocking at my door. Sometimes I miss all that makes Calcutta the city I have left behind, sometimes I find a small Calcutta in the heart of whatever place I am in. This was my fourth Pujo at SNDU and I missed going back home again.

When I first left Calcutta for the 2001 Pujo, I had felt miserable but within the deserts of Rajasthan I found something that will remain the definition of the Pujos for me. Working weeks to ensure that the Pujo happens without any glitch, acting the senior as well as the obedient junior, running back from classes to give the Anjali and never going back, dancing with the hot dhunuchis, Pilani defined Pujo as it should be. Bangalore was difficult but with the bongs around things was always nice. Whether it was the shamefully expensive buffet dinners we had to the time we made up for it by gorging on sweets at K C Das, it was nice to be around friends watching a new city celebrate the festival so close to our hearts.

My first year in Mumbai Pujo was a crazy trip around the Maximum City trying to soak in as much as I can; the essence of all things Bengali and that had made me yearn to go back to Calcutta. It’s not that I could not find a place to go during these five days. I believe that it’s easier to find a Durga Pujo in this world than finding any semblance of sense in my posts.

So finally last year, I was back in Calcutta. The city, at least the part I have grown up in, had decayed even more. Wherever my travels have taken me I have found that some parts of the city always remains forgotten; a ghost of the glorious past. And no where is it starker than in Calcutta. The glory of the North is lying today amidst forgotten debris. And that’s how life is. We Northies are a dying breed, still stuck in our memories as the realities of life have pushed us out.

Have you seen the new Hero Splendour ads? That’s where I grew up in. The decaying walls, the political graffiti, all that my childhood was made up of.

This year SNDU sent me to a course and thus I was staying back in Mumbai again. And I had time to think about what Pujo means to me. Sitting during the lunch break on Worli Sea Face, looking into the bright sunlit ocean, I wondered. From the times when seeing the maximum number of idols defined Pujo, to the time when we “grew up” at Trincas and wondered about Maddox Square, life has indeed changed a lot. But what has not changed is my endeavour to explain to people, especially non Bongs, why we celebrate the Puja as we do. Why it’s about the daughter coming home and not necessarily of good triumphing over evil. When the family is together, there can be no evil, can it? I remember the generations of Bengali mothers who have sung for their daughters. It’s painful, how a mother and daughter accept their separation when the daughter is married. I have seen the pain in my parents’ eyes when my sis got married and I have seen their eyes light up when she comes back. Who cares about Raavan dying?

But when I stood at Shivaji Park, swamped by people all around me, I could hear the sound of the dhak reverberating through every vein of my body. The most primitive of all sounds, the drums raise the call of the forgotten nomad in our bloods. Its earthiness reminds us who we were, who we still can be. I missed my family and realized that sometimes the strongest bonds are of blood, not necessarily of love. And it’s not a bad thing.

Some called, from Delhi, from New York, from other parts of the world. Others I did. Many I forgot to call and I am sorry for it, but to whoever is reading this post, Shubho Bijoya. Asche bochor abar hobe :)


Rahul said...

I know this is a completely tangential question.. but what's SNDU?

Pooja said...

Shubho Bijoya! :) I grew up in Probashi Pujos, doing everything from decorating the protimas to giving anjali to the nataks will remain the definition of Pujo for me....seeing one in Kolkata a couple of years back was a revelation - but it is no fun unless you have good company! Pujo sure is the time when I too miss family the most. Thankfully, asche bochor abaar hobe!! :)

Looks like you had a great Pujo in maximum city nevertheless!


Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Rahul - Sabun Nakhun and Datun Unlimited. That's where I work.

@ Pooja - Long time :) Shubho Bijoya :)