Abar bochor por pujo elo ghure – Asche bochhor abar hobe

या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्ति रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शांती रूपेण संस्थीता नमस्तस्ययी नमस्तस्ययी नमस्तस्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मात्री रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु विद्या रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु विश्नुमाये संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु बुद्धि रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु निद्रा रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु क्षमा रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्व भुतेशु लक्ष्मी रुपेण संस्थीता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु भ्रांति रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु प्रीति रुपेण संस्थिता नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु चेतानैत्याभिधियाते संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु क्षुदा रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु छाया रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु तृष्णा रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु जाती रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु लज्जा रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु क्षनती रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु श्रध्दा रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु कांति रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु वृत्ति रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु स्मृति रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु दया रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
या देवी सर्वभूतेषु तुस्ती रुपेण संस्थिता नाम्स्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमस्तास्ययी नमोः नमः
इन्द्रियानाम अधिस्तात्री भुतानाम्चा अखिलेशुचा भुतेशु सततं तस्येई व्यप्तिदेव्येई नमोः नमः
चितिरुपेना या क्रित्स्नामेतात व्यप्या स्थिता जगत नमस्तास्येई नमस्तास्येई नमस्तास्येई नमोः नमः
ओउम शांति शांति शांतिही

Durga Puja – It really brings a smile on the face. This is the only festival in us Bengali’s that we celebrate with pomp. To us Bengali’s Puja are the five days we all look forward to. Puja means new clothes new shoes…… one new dress each and everyday for the five days. We all, so look forward to this time of the year!!! Sharodiya Durgotsav……. That is what it is called precisely because it comes in the Bengali calendar of shorot.

Bengali’s believe that is the time when Ma Durga comes to earth, her parents place with her children Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kartik and their pets the lion, the mouse, the owl, the swan and the peacock. Mythologically Durga Puja is the time when Ma Durga is said to have slain Mahishasur and brought about peace back on earth.

Durga Puja means the sound of dhak, the smell of dhoop, new clothes, the excitement in the air, the sight of all beautiful men, women and children decked in their best, and puja means the recitation of the chandi, the sound of the conch, giving of pushpanjali, eating of bhog (khichdi, labda, payesh and lots of mishti). Puja is a time for family and friends and lots of joy. Puja means pandal hopping, gorging on junk food, watching celebrities sing, Orchestra, theatre taking part in cultural activities and of course the dhunuchi dance. Puja means the scurrying children and balloons and festoons all round. As far as I remember Puja also means EXAMS!!! Yeah for us it was exams as well when we were kids. We studied hard before the exams so that we could enjoy a little bit here and there during puja. When we were older Puja meant major flirting time. Yeah it seems strange but like in Holi when you can get away with abusing your friends and enemies (bura mat mano yaro holi hai) in the same way in Durga puja you can get away with flirting. According to Discovery it is the time when even animals have their mating period. Statistics in india say that the maximum of the abortions take place after navaratri….. busy time for the gynaecs.

Durga Puja takes place every year in the last five days of navratri. Mahalaya (amavasya) marks the advent of Puja. When we were kids, dad and ma used to wake all three of us in the morning to listen to Chandi path. It was the same every year. Dad used to tune the radio the night before and all of us were paraded predawn at 5:30 to listen to chandi path. I really don’t remember any part of the chandi except for the words that i typed at the beginning of the blog. They are the ending lines of the chandi path and that is when i would wake up. When i was little i used to ask ma if Puja had already started and ma would reply “just around the corner”. In the evening we used to have the kali puja and also that is the time when the artisans making the idol, draw the eyes of the god…. it is mandatory that the eyes be drawn on that day itself and not before that. It is the time when Durga Ma leaves for her father’s house from her husband’s house with her kids. At our home Mahalaya got the whole family in a cleaning frenzy. Overnight everybody developed a cleanliness disorder. Everything in the house from shelves to curtains to cupboards to all the lofts and just everything is cleaned and cleaned and cleaned so that when Durga Ma comes she finds the whole house clutter free and in order.

The actual puja starts with Shasti and ends with Dussehra. Mythologically it took five days for ma to kill the demon Mahishasur. Shashti starts with Agomoni wherein Ma and her children are welcomed. The Puja usually takes place under a Bel tree which is the favorite place for Lord Shiva. (Grandmother’s says that lord shiva does not allow his wife and children to leave and screams and raves and rants and weeps as he would miss her and the children so usually there is thunder and lightning and rain on that day…..) Shashti is just the warm up. The actual pranpratishtha of the idol takes place on Saptami. Followed by the biggest Puja on Ashtami which is followed by Sandhi Puja in the evening. Navami puja has the havan and the kumari puja and finally it is time for Ma to go back on Dashami. After the Darpvisarjan and the boron we have the sindur khela where married women smear vermillon on each other.

For me Puja is a time when i go to my mom’s place and usually the days start with getting up real early and taking a bath and going to the puja mandap. The whole day is spent there with ma, pa and bro in law arranging for the puja, haggling and gossiping with my sisters and nieces, catching up with friends (I meet them only during puja every year and the rest of the year we just exchange mails), giving pushpanjali and then eating bhog (for these five days we do not cook in the house….. the only four days ma actually gets complete rest). We usually dress up in all the finery because ma says that durga ma should see us in the best……. Women wear a lot of jewellery on these days because if durga ma sees you in all this she will bless you so that next year you will have double of this. The food stalls in the mandap usually cater to our taste buds. There is the Mochar chop, devil, various cutlets (veg and non veg), chinese, biryanis, chicken lollipop, sweets as in langcha, chomchom, rosogolla, ladyginni,(or is it lady canning dont no!!!) sandesh etc etc. Unlike other indian communities who strictly adhere to vegetarian food during the puja, it is actually customary for us bengalis to eat nonveg…… Infact in the olden days there used to be animal sacrifices during puja. In the evening we do pandal hopping wherein we see the various other mandaps of durga puja….. their decorations and meet up with friends there and watch programmes conducted by celebrities. When we were kids we participated in some of them ourselves.

When i was a kid I used stand gazing at the idol for hours and see the love emanating from her face. It somehow felt like she said that everything will be fine. When I was young I obviously had nothing to make good but today when i try to recapture that emotion, I cant!!! I guess that had a lot to do with innocence and trust. For five days I used to look forward to coming back home from school and then when in college we did not have exams so i used to take a holiday for all the days of puja. Those were definitely the most glorious days. I used to spend the whole day at the Pandal. Dad and ma were always involved in the puja preparations in the association so it was kinda fun to run around and nobody tell you anything (oh!! chakraborty’s daughter). I used to take all my non bengali friends to the puja and we used to have a lot of fun.

The last day of Puja (dashami) ie dussehra would see the immersion of the Durga idol. In the morning we used to go and pray to the goddess for the last time before the darpvisarjan and then Ma Durga was officially on her way back home. We used to carry our books and touch them to the feet of the gods to bring us good luck in our studies after that the married ladies used to have the baran and then the sindur khela. I participated in it this year and had a real bad time with my skin itching real bad. I had to take an antihistamine for the same.

We always went for the immersion (bhashan) since dad and ma were into the organising committee. Ma always became the mother of Durga Ma who would do the last baran and keep a lump of mud and coin from Durga Ma. She never ever got to see the bhashan. We used to go in a procession in trucks and men used to do the dhunuchi dance and the women too danced. There was the dhak playing all through and then when we reached our very own Mula Mutha (I still dont know which one it is only that it is real dirty) the idols were downloaded from the trucks carrying them and then one by one they were immersed in the river. It was heart breaking to see Ma go. I always cried. It was as though some family member whom you really loved is going away. It was the same this year and I had to close my eyes when dada turned the idol in the water. (my broinlaw does it every year)

Dussehra in my home means food and lots of food. Unlike traditions at my inlaws, ma always made nonveg on dussehra (for me who is a vegetarian it was really really bad). I always kidded with ma that the animals must be really hating bengali festivals because on that day it would mean their inevitable death. Yaaah !!! I always get a lot of glares and get lost and similar sounding sentiments when i talk like that….. (the one that everybody hate me for is the quote by dada T.L. Vaswani of the Mira Institution “…… remember you r eating the dead body of your own brother and sister!!! ) For dussehra, ma makes an array of food (still does) there are atleast five to six items of fried stuff like fried potatoes, brinjal, okra, beans, pumpkin, cauliflower, etc etc. It is still made specially for me and my nieces….. being the youngest still has its priveleges. Ma also makes hell lot of leafy items almost five to six. Earlier it used to be eleven and then there is the gravy items and payesh and ofcourse rice and dal and nonveg (both fish and mutton). Ma slaves from morning to prepare all this for us. This year too she made a feast for the whole family. (ten people total).

After visarjan we take the shanti jol and the men hug each other. (I find that very funny). As for us, we used to offer pranam to the elders and get money from them and lots of sweets. When i was young we used to have siddhi (bhang) made at our house on dussehra….. the reason being dad was in the committee and my house was the closest to the pandal/temple. There used to be five people coming home for this purpose. Then the whole afternoon we would have the grinder (two of them) running and litres of bhang being made. It was actually very tasty. Ofcourse we were given to drink it before actually adding the bhang. After that the eccentricities of the men would start. Some would laugh and some would cry and some would just sit mum. Dad once started flying and ma was so worried that she had to rush to get doctor uncle home. I dont remember him (dr karnik) laughing so much. After that year we never let dad get anywhere close to the siddhi. I think having three daughters really terrorises a man.

From the dussehra day to kali puja (diwali), we sed to be invited to all my dad’s and ma’s friends place for bijoya. Lately it is mostly phone calls and smses that are sent around. At my place we never really had a bijoya party as the other kakus and kakima’s did. Ma did the Kojagiri laxmi puja with a lot of pomp and also that was the day when all our friends were invited. That was our bijoya party. Ma used wash the whole kitchen and the place where the puja would take place and there would be hordes of shopping to be done in respect to flowers, fruits and vegetables for the puja. Everybody in the household would observe fast that day….. even dad as he was doing the puja. He would get hungry and run after all of us to eat so that he could eat too!!! The afternoons would see all three of us giving alpona (rangoli of rice paste) all over the house starting with little feet of ma laxmi in all the rooms, to the dhaner chora (bundles of grain – symbolic) to the kolosh and aam (symbols of abundance and fertility) to show that she has been all over. Then Ma would start cooking for all the people starting from narus (laddoos) to karanjees to puris to khichdi, labda, fries and payesh etc etc. All this was served to Ma Laxmi. We get to eat only after offering the pushpanjali. Then the guests would troop in and it would be way past midnight before we would collapse (that is what we did every year) to bed.

I have never ever been to kolkata for durga puja but rajdeep assures me that it is very beautiful. I do plan to go there sometime….. maybe one day but our khadki kali bari puja is good atleast it will always remain my favorite. For with it are the memories of the glorious pujas that I have had since I was born till date (I do make it a point atleast one day there)

I leave you with the site address of our kali bari in khadki with which my family is still associated and to which my dad contributed to building…….. it is the best!!!

http://www.kalibaripune.org/

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