October 09, 2011

Five Days of Bongness

Technically it’s not just Bongness. It’s also about being a true blue Calcuttan whether you have bong genes or not and if you are unlucky, it’s also “I am unfortunate to have more than one Bong friend”-ness. October typically is the month when this virus spreads across the world from as I call it, “Beleghata to Baluchistan”.  The only rare exception so far has been Colombo but I am sure it’s because we have not searched intensely.

Anyway, according to last desktop research done through the highly scientific “Eenie, Meenie, Minie Moe” method, I have come to the conclusion that 98.675% of the bloggers who would have written about Durga Puja would have written on the following topics – Durga Puja in Calcutta, Durga Puja outside Calcutta, How awesome bongs are, how awesome Calcutta’s people are, how awesome whoever who sees an idol is, how they miss home, how they miss Cal, how it is never the same. You get the drift. Bongs revel in their nostalgia.

So this year, I decided to write about the 5 things I dislike about Durga Puja.

  1. The fact that the food I yearn for during these 5 days is so very hard to get outside my home in Calcutta. The rolls, the puchkas, the bhog - everything seems different and seems to fall below the standards that a young you would have set up. Money can’t buy you the khichuri on the morning on Ashtami made by your mom, for everything else; you can use your credit card. I dislike the fact that we have put a man on the moon and yet we don’t know how to ensure chhanar payesh does not go bad within 2 days!
  2. The fact that every self respecting bong starts shouting in a very strange North India influenced way – Durga Mai ki Jai. Now clearly Bongs and Hindi pronunciation don’t go together so it ends up in a form of “Doorga Maaeee Ki Joy”. Now while going to Vaishnodevi you start shouting this I have no issues; in fact if I ever can make the trip I can outshout you. But seriously for us core “Karonbaari” drinking Shaktos it’s cringing to shout Jai Jai instead of rolling all over the floor crying like a baby “Ma Ma” (The Tantric influence is strong in us. We also worship Goddess Kali you see)
  3. The fact that all Bong women suddenly start wearing the gorgeous sarees. All through the year, the British taught Bong will be stuck up in his Victorian morality and will not even look up even if Paris Hilton walks past him. But deep inside him, as taught by most of his great ancestors, there is a hidden romantic. And these 5 days the women of Bengal decide to test the resolve of the Bengali man. Age no longer remains a barrier (upwards I mean) and if by chance the woman has decided to let her hair out of the natural work day bondage, the Bengali man starts reciting his Jibonanondo, imagining the long black hair to be the darkness that hangs over the ancient city of Bidisha. Again by desktop research I have found out that in North Calcutta, 76% of the para romance happens when boy meets girl at Pushpanjali.
  4. The fact that everyone turns a dancer. Dhunuchi naach is an art. The fire held in the hands is a symbolism of the fire within. But every Ajoy Babu, Bijoy Babu and Sujoy Babu, after their 2 pegs of Old monk will become a dhunuchi dancer. And sometimes, there is flower inside the dhunuchis instead of fire! This is more scandalous than Messi being called the new Maradona. The burn on my left foot starts itching and all I desire is to give the gentlemen a kick like our God Pele had given the phootboll when he had come and played in Calcutta.
  5. The fact that there is a logical discrepancy in the prayer. Now having had the Marxist influence on most of our upbringing, these are perhaps the only 5 days we pray. (and also on Christmas but that’s more for the cake I guess) First I dislike the fact that contrary to everything that Howard Roark stood for all neo capitalists start saying dehi dehi. I mean I seldom have seen a race to be such a strong believer in being a Momma’s Boy (I am a proud one) but to even pray asking the Mother of All to just give (almost everything you can think of) is taking it a bit too much. Now I could have survived even that. But the fact remains is that after all these years and carefully listening to every priest I have figured out that nobody knows what the correct “mahastami anjali mantra” is. It completely depends on what mood the priest is in on that day. Since 2000, I have not heard the same mantra being repeated even once!!! I mean the only difference in the Christian call to the Trinity is that some people love to call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost. Now that’s still manageable!
But God Bless you Singapore and Bongs of Singapore. You have lived up to the tradition that if there are 3 bongs, there will be 2 political ideologies and if there are 5, there will be 2 Durgapujos. To find 4 in a new city is what I would call a miracle.

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