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Bengal and Himachal in Bangalore, India all across the world


Just the other evening, did you see a mother having a very late lunch at a Durga Puja pandal with her family and within a few hours biting into an egg-roll and then again a vegetable chop and also a plateful of momos and later biriyani? Well..who was she? None other than me in Koramangla. It was also another mother in BTM. And yet another mother in Whitefields. And someone in Ulsoor…Someone in Jaymahal…Someone in Sharjapur…it doesn’t end. What were all these ladies doing? Celebrating Mahashaptami of Durga Puja with their families obviously, with ‘good’ food – food that is always looked at with suspicion except during these tumultuous, chaotic, quick five days of Durga Puja when the kitchens shut down and ‘khichri’ and ‘aloo bhaja’ (‘desi’ French fries) and ‘chutney’ (sweet pickle) taste better than the best dishes of the world and diabetic husbands get a free run.

When ‘tantuja’ cotton scores over silks and when the young mother turns a blind eye to the little children missing their afternoon nap because puja-pandal-hopping becomes the priority. Because the sweets (‘rasgullas’ and ‘bonday’ i.e. ‘bundi’) and ‘samosas’ have to be eaten from different stalls at the different pandals at the oddest hours and the images of Goddess Durga and her children (Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartikeya, Ganesha) across pandals have to be offered prayers and their beauty with the innovative themes behind the pandals have to be compared and discussed! Because Durga Puja has been an essential part of childhood for all these Bongs and despite the years rolling on, the enthusiasm hasn’t died down. Because the festival celebrated with vigour during childhood brings us face to face with childhood once again with love and without a trace of regret for those years gone, because Durga Puja is something the Bongs identify themselves with, this major festival is something we link ourselves with since we grew up with it as a part of our life every year.

The Importance of Indian Festivals

Image source: www.shalvikap.wordpress.com

 A festival brings back some beautiful moments before us to relish, to get nostalgic, to greet yesterday’s children as today’s youth, to realize the years have rolled by but the festival hasn’t lost its charm. The spirit of celebration slowly seeps into the children to help them relive these days after three decades when they in turn will be celebrating with their children, maybe together, or maybe over phone or maybe over the Net or who knows over what (with technology taking giant strides, anything could be possible)!

Whether it is a Bong celebrating Durga Puja, a Punjabi celebrating Lohri, a Tamil celebrating Pongal – a festival helps us remain firmly in touch with our beliefs, our culture, and the little things we grew up with, that all became part of us and no matter where we are in the world, we don’t feel rootless and find our own ways of living each day of the festival. It could be capturing the white beauty of autumn’s ‘kaash phool’ (white flowers signifying Durga Puja is round the corner) growing abundantly in far-flung Europe for sharing on Facebook with friends in India or worshipping Durga Puja in USA or freaking out on ‘samosas’ and ‘jalebies’ and ‘shondesh’ (sweets) or watching dance dramas enacted on stage or listening to Rabindrasangeet sung by aunties in their fifties or tapping your feet to modern Bong songs belted out by some new band from Bengal even if the music is louder than the song, or Mahalaya songs filling the Bong home with endearing tunes or top honchos from MNCs taking off from work to serve “bhog” or “prasad” to the endless streams of visitors to puja-pandals.

Also Read : How children add new meaning to festivals

A festival that was part of childhood is part of youth, part of our mid-life, now an integral part of our life – that special something that helps us recreate Assam away from Assam, Kerala away from Kerala, Gujarat away from Gujarat, somewhere within India or somewhere as far as Europe or America or Australia – through rituals, through traditions, through food, through greeting friends and relatives, through oblations, through prayers, through wishing and bonding, through listening to CDs of Mahalaya. That’s how a festival runs across states, across countries, across continents and across generations. Something that helps us feel and stay rooted even as we grow as global citizens. Something the children today will imbibe as their parents did decades back and instill, in turn, into their children years later.

A festival is a parent – a balm to the stressed-out mind, the link between childhood and the rest of the life – as it helps the present to bond with the past.

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8 thoughts on “Bengal and Himachal in Bangalore, India all across the world

  1. Aparajita Bose

    Could anybody relate to my post? One does not necessarily have to be a Bong to relate to a Bong’s narrative on Durga Puja celebrations. This is festival time and many, many of you there are bonding with your children (particularly the working mothers working outside home) and other family members. Isn’t a festival a great stressbuster?

    Reply
  2. Dolly Shrivastava

    Very well written Aparajita!Loved to read and relive my childhood through your article.Missing those days even more after reading it :(
    Our grandparents,lovely young parents, our little siblings and friends……everything has changed and is changing at such a lightning speed.It is just not possible to hold on to anything but our memories……

    Reply
  3. Sujoy

    Apu,

    Superbly you have put up the thoughts……but one thing I want to add. Till 3 years back I never used to go back to Kolkata during pujo due to various reasons mainly hot & crowd……But from last 3 years I have made a point that I will be with my parents during Pujo…..At this age our partents need us more than we need them……As a child I have learnt this late but once learnt I make sure that I carry out every year…..Sujoy

    Reply
  4. Prabjoth Bahl

    Truly written from the heart .At such times one feels ” I wish that I could turn back the clock put the wheels of time to a stop”.

    Reply
  5. sujoy saha

    Wonderfully written……Just I want to add few points……I did not use to visit Kolkata during pujas till 3 years back…..As a child I have now realised that now our parents need us more than we miss them…..from that year I have made a point that I go back to parents every year during pujas & spent time with parents & family in Kolkata……at some point of time we need realise that we too are childern & control on us of our parents has weakened considerably over a period of time….but we need make them feel though we are away still we are very near to them & puja is the time when parents miss the kids most…….

    Reply

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