The first post for October comes nearly after half the month has passed. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it as the month began with the most awaited festival for Bengalis – Durga Puja. Like every year, we went to Berhampore – the place I still call home.
The kid wasn’t well since the night of his birthday because of a severe viral infection. We weren’t sure if we would make it home for puja this year. But we had underestimated the collective power of grandparents’ love and the resilience of our son. On the day of Panchami, we decided to take a chance and drove back home.
Like every year, I spent Saptami and Ashtami at Baba’s house, offering pushpanjali at our para pandal. Nabami and Dashami were at my marital home. We went pandal hopping on Ashtami and Nabami afternoons while spending the evenings at UCC puja pandal – the puja organized by my husband and his friends.
As we bid goodbye to the Goddess on the last day of Durga Puja, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the love and warmth of being surrounded by family and friends. Since our son was born, we have consciously tried to be back home for Durga Puja and keep the vacation schedule for Diwali. I’m glad that this year is no exception too.
We had a small get-together two days before we returned to Kolkata. Old friends and their families caught up over delicious lunch and long adda sessions. It was heartwarming to see the new generation bond with each other just like their parents. The kid also watched his first movie in the theatre – Karnasubarner Guptadhan, a Bengali detective thriller featuring Abir Chatterjee as Sona Da.
Drafting this post from my writing desk in Kolkata, I won’t deny the tinge of sadness I feel while away from familiar surroundings. But there’s so much happening on the writing part that I can’t wait to share some good news related to my upcoming books soon.
This Ashtami brought the first joyful news related to my latest book. Yesterday, my literary agent surprised me with another piece of information about the second Raya Ray novel. I shall update you with all the details once the necessary formalities are completed. Stay tuned, and I wish you all love and light.
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.
Twenty plus years ago, I stopped Durga puja pandal hopping. Probably because I felt that I was grown up enough to decide what I wanted to do and what I would want to stop doing. Until then, every year Baba and I along with his colleague and his daughter, my best friend then would get on to two pedal rickshaws and cover maximum of my hometowns pujas over a span of three noons- saptami, ashtami and navami. By the time we returned home, it would be late evening and we would still be all enthusiastically dress up to sit and assess the crowd coming to see our para pujo. With time, even sitting outside para (our lane) pandal stopped. Then 10th boards happened followed by 12th. Amidst all the pressure of studies, choosing a career and moving out for higher studies, I indeed grew up. Continue reading “Asura-the demon and my toddler “