Wednesday, October 24, 2007


An only child of Indian parents is apt to be spoiled, especially so if he's a Bengali. More so if the occasion is Durga Pujo. And if he happened to live in Bihar, it meant that he would have at least three times, if not more, the number of new clothes to wear during Pujo than his non Bengali friends! In the best of years, the number (and mind u, this is the number of combinations of Trousers and T-Shirts/Shirts) could go up to 7 or 8 which meant 2 new combinations for each day. At times it was almost embarrassing.

Yes, back when I was growing up in Bokaro; Durga Puja or DP, as I have only heard Bokaroites call it, was FUN. And the new clothes were just one part of it. From setting up little stalls in front of the pandal which lent out Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Chacha Chowdhury, Tinkle at 50p (Re 1 for the Digest, mind you!) and earning a princely Rs 17 in the process, to feasting on the Re 1 and Rs 2 'ice creams' that were to be seen everywhere; from eating Khichdi sitting under the sun along with family and friends on Ashthami or Navami to going around the city on cycles, scooters and in later years, cars, to check out the pretty girls all dressed up; DP was one event I totally looked forward to. The anticipation, the lead up to saptami, the three days of unabated celebrations and then dashami, it was so very intense.

Roaming around in the pandals, watching the 'Arati Competition', making sure that on arriving at a pandal the first thing we did was to pray to the Goddess before we started looking around for pretty faces, making the occasional polite conversation with the neighbourhood uncle who recognised you, everything about those few days had a touch of magic to it.

Over the years though, like most things, the charm faded away. Whether it was a case of us outgrowing the simple pleasures of DP or the charm actually giving way to something bordering on tedium, would become a favourite topic of discussion amongst us.

Slowly inching towards the wonderfully created and even more spectacularly lit 'Harry Potter' pandal, replete with the train, tunnel and Harry Potter, with my parents alongside me, I felt lonely amongst the five thousand odd people gathered in Salt Lake's FD Block in Kolkata. DP, was no longer the same.

Beauty in transience. I guess that's what all those beautifully crafted idols and pandals are meant to convey. That's why those few days of fun and laughter were given to us as kids. When everything else took a backseat and DP reigned supreme. And although I never was the religious kind, yet if I had to pick a favourite God(dess), I know who it would be. And the reasons would be far from religious.

By the way, if the first lines sound familiar, I really like the way Nehru starts his autobiography.


Wanderer said...

i assume three times, because of diwali + chhatth - which begs the question, bengalis don't celebrate chhatth, do they?

Atish said...

@wanderer: no they dont

Shravan said...

indeed the times have changed, DP now stands for somethg else ;)

Shreyas said...

amaar bangla! DP bhalo aachi na? aami religion boojhi na, aami only know pretty faces...(howzzat???)

beauty in, pardon my vocabulary, but what does that mean..changing or something?

and for once a bengali makes a candid confession of being spoilt by his parents more than an average single child...hehe

great post!