Yesterday was the puja of my favorite Goddess, Ma Saraswati. When I went through the archives of my blog this morning, I realized I’ve always published a blog post on or after the day of Saraswati puja. It started the year my son was introduced to reading and writing (hathekhori). Now that he’s in class 1, I’ve no desire to make an exception.
Like every year, my father took up the responsibility of carrying out the puja at home. Since last year, my son has become his self-proclaimed assistant, and I’m reduced to a mere audience at home. The enthusiasm was a bit on the higher side this year since my husband could manage a day off from his hospital duties.
After fulfilling the rituals of worship, prayers, and pushpanajali, we couldn’t resist overeating the prasad called bhog in Bengali. From luchi, dum aloo, suji in the morning to khichdi, labra, beguni, and chutney in the afternoon, we ended up with an overdose of the delicious bhog.
His books, notebooks, pencils, and even the laptop were kept at the feet of the deity to seek the blessings of the Goddess of knowledge. Thus, the kid didn’t have to come up with another innovative excuse for not studying. It was a no-study or workday for all of us, and as a family, we relished this time for fun and bonding.
I hope and pray for the Goddess to bless the world with wisdom and knowledge so that we make the right choices for ourselves and the generations to come.
In the last three posts, I wrote about my experience of celebrating Durga Puja in Mysore, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Berhampore. For the last post in this series, I wish to speak about the way life and the idea of celebrating a festival changed for us this year.
Life during the pandemic taught me perseverance and resilience. My son and I hadn’t taken a trip outside Kolkata since March. It was more out of compulsion than by choice that we decided to return to Berhampore after more than a year this October. Leaves were canceled at my husband’s workplace during the festival. Both my father and in-laws weren’t in a position to travel back to Kolkata at such short notice.
After the mandatory isolation period, the only distance that I traveled in Berhampore was from my in-law’s house to Baba’s home for a couple of days. I consciously decided not to step out of home for pushpanjali or pandal hopping. We offered our prayers at home. The bhog preparation for our para pandal happens on the ground floor of my home. Thus, we weren’t deprived of the delicious food options during the festival.
While I have a couple of pictures of Tuneer celebrating with my father and in-laws, I could only click a single picture of Ma Durga in the pandal near my home. I took the snap standing 10 meters away from the pandal while I was leaving for my in-law’s place. My husband clicked the other picture of their UCC Durga puja, which has entered its third year since inception.
We missed out on meeting friends, enjoying the endless adda sessions, visiting multiple pandals, and eating out at restaurants. But it was a conscious decision to stay indoors, not just for our safety but also for the ones who are most vulnerable to this deadly virus. I wish to remember 2020 as a year that showed us the importance of minimalism and sensible choices.
I hope you had a grand Durga Puja, celebrating in your way but without compromising on precautions. Here’s wishing you and your family a Shubo Bijoya Dashami/ Vijaya Dashami and Happy Dusshera. May we overcome the hurdles to go back to the old normal very soon.
“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign. This is the eighth and last post in the series; you can read all posts here.
I have often written about how my mothers demise changed my approach towards Durga Puja – the biggest festival for any Bengali. But things changed last year after I realized that I need my toddler to enjoy moments of celebration so that he grows up creating memories. This year, our return trip to my home town and also my husband’s native Berhampore was decided months ago because we wanted the toddler to enjoy puja with his grandparents.
When I decided to go pandal hopping last year, the venue and pandals were predecided evety single day because of my meticulous planning. It wasn’t meant to be any different this year. But like the saying goes, man proposes and God disposes. The toddler who had been unwell for the last one week fell critically ill after reaching Berhampore on Friday. His respiratory infection aggravated so badly that we had to nebulize him. The families were of the opinion that he needed to take rest and might be able to visit pandals only after getting fit which probably meant on the last couple of days of Puja.
Haridasmati impressed me with the Kerala style temple
It was really difficult to see the disappointment on my son’s face. With new clothes meant to be worn on days designated to be enjoyed, it was so painful to see him sit at home. Day before yesterday when his condition improved slightly, I decided to take him on an impromptu visit to few pandals. Some were the famous ones like the Puja at Bhattacharya Para which came into limelight for the 25kgs gold jewelry gifted by Senco Jewellrs but some took my heart away through the minimalist approach and some impressed my toddler with innovative Asuras (he calls Asura his friend even today) . We ended up covering six pujas before heading back home.