One more month has come to an end. This was the month of joy, celebration and madness! This was the month of pujo! Durga pujo is not a just days or a week, but a month-full of celebration, especially for us Bengalis. It starts days before Mahalaya and lasts till Diwali. These festivals make us defy logic and let go off our sanity. First, Bengalis ‘impatiently’ wait for pujo for months, then the same people ‘patiently’, often ridiculously, stand in serpentine queues for hours, only to catch a glimpse of the superbly crafted pandals and Maa Durga’s pratima! That is sheer madness and fun!
I was born and brought up in Jharkhand (former Bihar). Jharkhandis will know, how grand pujo is in the state! The best part is- it happens right next door! The preparations start weeks ahead. Hectic shopping for new clothes, endless practice for cultural programmes and as weeks pass, the air fills with the mild fragrance of shiuli flowers and dhuno, giving a familiar tug to every Bengali heart.
Mornings start with anjali (prayers). As a kid, I remember following ma to the pandal near our home in Bokaro. She used to look divine in her beautiful taant bengali saari. Anjali was followed by lots of adda, contests (including some really crazy ones) and ended with bhog. We used to meet everyone we knew. It was like one big family partying together. Throughout my childhood, I used to run around the pandal all the time with my friends, playing hide and seek in my new bright dress.
In the evenings, the pandal used to get transformed into a cultural hotspot. People turned up in their finest silks, to watch and applaud the efforts of local and professional artists. One of my favourite events in pujo was Robindro shongeet and dhunochi dance. The ambiance of the pujo pandal in the mild dhuno smoke, always made people believe that goddess Durga is amongst them! In-spite of being an atheist, I felt this way- such charged up are human feelings during pujo.
For past few years, I have been missing pujo in my para. I may not have admired it this much, when I lived through those days, but now I miss it very much. I now understand, how much culture means to us Indians! Somehow, our generation is losing the value that festivals hold for us. And this is a problem with every culture and religion. My request to my small set of beloved readers is- if you have an opportunity to celebrate your festivals, enjoy them! Relax. Meet friends. Party. At any cost! You may not know now, but few years down the line you’ll know what you missed in life!