I have been waiting to do this since long – to write a vivid account of the Pujo celebrations in Jamshedpur, my hometown. Last year, I almost would have written it but a last minute announcement at my coaching institute about an exam after the holidays, screwed things up for me. It was not that I did gloriously in the exam too; it was a disaster beyond imagination for me. Sort of a blasphemy, if you are going to ask me. Reason? As a true bangali during the pujo, I did not even care to turn over a single page. Oh! Come on – the Durga Puja’s are here only for a couple of days – not even a week and somebody expects a machcher jhol bangali to study? Never. It’s a short and crisp answer residing in the negative zone.
Cutting to the present, I have been fascinated by Durga Puja ever since I was a kid. That buying up of new clothes, that unrestrained eating of junk foods near the para pandal which at that time has got even the approval of my parents, holding my father’s hand tightly while negotiating the serpentine crowds in order to enter a ‘big-shot’ pandal and also meeting up with friends in schools and arguing who has seen the most pujos, which club’s protima was the best ans other such random talks. An then in the end, on the occasion of Bijoya Dashami heading on to para’s dada and boudi’s people homes, touching their feet, getting their blessings and gobbling up on the rosogollas, singaharas and ghugnis which was served as a treat as fast I could. Ah! Those days of my past! I feel nostalgic remembering them.
I am now 17 and in Class XII. If everything is alright then most probably this is going to be my last pujo in Jamshedpur, the next year shall see me in some other town in a college. So I am just trying to recapture as much energy, happiness and mood which I am seeing and feeling into words. I have read a few accounts of Durga Pujo celebrations in Jamshedpur on the net but they were written a long time back in 2008. So this inspired me to take up this writing challenge and show the world the festivities of Jamshedpur.
Mahalaya – the very sound of it makes one eager, Maa aasche. The first thing which comes to one’s mind is that of waking up in sleepily in the pre-dawn time to listen to Mahisasura Mardini invoking Maa Durga to come down to Earth, with maa tumi jaago ringing in our ears. That acoustic melodrama in the inimitable voice of Birendra Kishore Bhadra is a thing which grows glorious and more beautiful with passing time, with every generation of Bangalis and now other communities listening to it since they were toddlers. I was not born in the radio era, rather in the times of TV and FM. So I do not remember listening to Mahisasura Mardini on the radio as my parents and their parents before them had done. My earliest memories of Mahalaya were to when my mother used to wake me at 4:45 am to listen to it. I remember how grumpily I used to wake up and pleading her to just let me sleep an hour more even though knowing that she was adamant and my requests would be refused without any consideration. After all this years, I thank my mother for acting as a catalyst to infuse in me the spirit of a bangali and introducing to my traditions and roots.
Ok so all the chandas to the Puja Committees have been given (haggling, a bit of raised voice, et all) and now its time for Mahalaya. Sadly, in my area, Kadma where I live there is nothing happening on Mahalaya, its all in our homes. I wish the Committees had something lined up for this day. It would have been so good.
On Tuesday, 23rd I woke up on my own at 4:30 as I had my Half Yearly Examinations going on. For the past 11 years, the CD has replaced the TV set for our annual ritual. Putting in the CD in my computer and playing it made me wonder – how this is the only thing remaining constant in the period of great change. From people in abroad to people near home, how everyone of them would be waking up like me at this time to listen to Birendra Kishore Bhadra’ chanting all over again.
One thing which does not please me is the overtly commercialization of this event. Now almost every TV channel has a version of it roping in actresses to play Maa Durga just for the sake of TRPs. Now this is the perhaps only change visible today and I can’t complain about it. I just have to accept it.
The countdown to Shasthi has begun! Only a few days more and then all the bliss of the world would descend on every para’s pandal soaking in its visitors in the same colour. I just can’t wait for the Puja’s to begin! I am getting really, really excited as I write this.
On a side note I am very happy that my Half Yearly got over before the Pujo and I can enjoy it without any fear in my heart. Since I am now in CBSE school, I heartily feel sorry for those in ICSE schools of Jamshedpur who would have their Second Terminal Examinations after it. Thank you DAV for giving the much needed break. Hope I can keep up with my writing during the Pujas.
Postscript – For those of you wondering from where did I get the Header image for this post let me answer your query – I made it in Photoshop to add to the artistic and cultural feel of the festival celebration in Jamshedpur.