My Dugga Pujo..

I've always missed the essence of simplicity, in the Durga Puja festival that is celebrated in Kolkata..

Maybe I'm biased, for I've almost always observed (read celebrated) Puja at my native place in Jhansi - a small encroachment of Uttar Pradesh into Madhya Pradesh - right at the Uttar-Madhya inter-space of India.. that is the heart of the country. People will always come across this place either in history books, or while preparing for the Railways and Armed Forces.. But I remember this place with Durga Puja being celebrated in my home! Its just huge - both in size, appeal and grandeur..

The idol in Jhansi would always be 'ek chali' that is single frame - the Devi herself and her sons (Ganesh and Kartik) and daughters (Saraswati adn Lakshmi) are on the same frame, with a background of patachitra and pith 'shola'. Patachitra are the series of paintings depicting various gods and goddesses in a semi-circular panel. These paintings depict the various deities of the pantheon, whose collective power gave birth to the goddess Durga, a feminine form created to destroy the evil demon Mahishashur. This panel goes as the backdrop behind the idol.

Traditionally silver and gold zari, and not sari, is what the goddess wears. The other option is white pith-dressing or shola. The idol at our Kali Bari in Jhansi is always dressed up in the traditional zari-worked clothing or what we call the daker shaaj. The complexion is always yellow, which always reminds me of the Simpsons.. thus (funnily enough) bringing me closer to, not just the festival as a whole, but also towards the very Devi for whom we celebrate..


The changing color of the Autumn sun in the faraway skyline is strumming the chords of nostalgia in the atmosphere around me. But something was surely missing here.. there is no para club culture here, no hustle-bustle preparing for the Puja, no urgency about the pushpanjali, no Kumhartuli, no Gariahat, no 21Palli.. However, I guess we'll just have to adapt according to what we keep up against us..

Durga Puja and autumn seem to reflect in each other. Crystal clear blue sky with thin, blue clouds, the smell of Sheuli phool in the air and the flowing-wavering Kaash phool on the field herald the beginning of the festive season in Bengal and the world.. Mother Nature is in full bloom with lush greenery all around..

However, its been 3 years that I haven't visited Bengal neither Jhansi.. my studies don't allow me to do so anymore! Vellore, where my university is (and my friends are..), has a small Bengali community who arrange Puja, in their own little yet fascinating way.. And like the last 3 years, we landed up there again this time..
 
And with exams beckoning from the next coming few days, I guess today was the day when I cut the full chase short.. a six days' extravaganza in a day..

It was finally the day to wear the thing my mum bought for me..

3 comments:

  1. I loved how u described the intricate details of the idol , the Daak er Shaaj (i miss it over here) n the panel behind or the Devi's dressing. Your pic adds that extra "personal" angle to the whole write up. Ahh..!! the description of Shorot Kaal in the end was the best part..!! :D keep it up..!!

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  2. well written. I love your narration and it reminded me my Durga Puja celebration days. Now don't get time in the metro to celebrate in a way we used to.

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  3. Thank you Sir, you're kind.. Indeed its been a while since I celebrated Durga Puja.. My cousins have now become near-hostile, complaining that I don't even try to get back.. but the exams and studies are just too much to keep me.. and same goes for my parents in Kolkata.. its the metro, the epicenter for the celebrations, agreed, but still compared to my native place, something's always a lacking..

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