Durga Pujo Away From Home

Whenever I am away from Kolkata, I impose a total media ban on anything related to the Pujo, taking a leaf out of the Government of India’s Ostrichian principle that if I bury my head in the sand and censor the flow of information about a certain thing, then that thing ceases to exist any more. [Picture to the left: Ballygunge Cultural Durga Pujo, Kolkata, 2005]

Which is why I refuse to do Protima Dorshon online (i.e. surf websites with pictures of pandals and images on them), do not appreciate being wished “Subho Mahalaya” and stay away from Probasi Pujos—–by blotting them out, I try to convince myself that Pujo does not exist and this illusion helps me to get over these few days. After all, as Durkheim demonstrated in Suicide, you feel miserable when everyone else is having fun, and you are not.

Mahalaya just passed us by. No I did not try to rake up an Mp3 of Birendra Krishna Bhodro’s endearing recitation of Mahisasura Mardini, a tour-de-force of raw, tremulous emotion where the interlocutor is reduced to tears at the end . Actually the only time I like to hear Mahisasura Mardini is during Mahalaya dawn, half-asleep, at home in Kolkata, awash with the the beautifully serene tunes of Pankaj Mallick, my own heart beating in anticipation of Pujo to come.

Listening to it at any other time is emotionally unsatisfying—which is why I hate it when they play it during Saraswati Pujo or on any arbitrary day—it’s like hearing the ting-a-ling of the ice-cream vendor when you know that there is no ice-cream in his cart.

In a way, I am happy that growing up my Pujos were not as fun-filled as I hear it was for many others—–if it was I would have missed it more. Make no mistake, I had nice times going out with my parents (if only to eat at the nearest place) and with my school group on Saptami morning (otherwise why would I look forward to it or miss it even now?). But since I had few friends, even fewer relatives and no locality Pujo to work as a volunteer for, I have been spared of a lot of pain I would have otherwise felt right now if I had formed a whole lot of pleasant memories. Again I do have a few but just not enough to overwhelm me.

In all these years I have been here, I have never attended that staple of the NRI Bengali—the Durga Pujo on weekends. The reason I have not is simply because if anything, Pujo means being at home, in the company of people you know—I suppose the sense of belonging a cat gets when it curls up on its favourite rug. And for me the NRI Durga Pujo would not be that—-I would know nobody there, would just go, pay, see the Durga idol, overhear some puerile conversation about Dhakai sari and Mokaibari tea, eat and leave. That’s not Durga Pujo….that’s a show and a dinner.

Vacuous–like a bottle of Mountain Dew.

And so another Pujo will come to pass…with me denying its existence…cheating once in a while by reminiscing about times gone by and mumbling to myself how far away, both in the terms of time and space, I am from home.

55 thoughts on “Durga Pujo Away From Home

  1. Ditto here in terms of blanking out the Pujas………been eight years now. SIGH !

    Did attend the NRI Pujos in the first few years – but was disillusioned….what with petty local politics, discussions on whose children made it to IVy league schools, middle aged women trying to outdo each other in showing off the latest saris and PC Chandra jewelleries and little children forced to recite in a language alrgely alien for them.

  2. You don’t like Mountain Dew ???!!!!???!

  3. Well

    I’m not from Kolkata, but have enjoyed our own Probashi Pujos in Lucknow till I had to leave the city in 1991.

    And after that the emotion I guess was very similar to what you describe…sigh !

    Arnab, you have a rare skill for getting your typing fingers on the pulse of a community.

  4. Very nice and nostalgic post GB..and a sad one too. Any Bengali who has been brought up in WB knows how it is to miss Pujo. Tell you what, even the Bangalore or Bombay or even CR park Delhi pujo doesnt have the same fizz as the WB pujo. Regarding Mahalaya, I still remember how my mom used to wait with eager anticipation of Birendra Kumar’s fantastic rendition. It was that time of the year when the radio used to be bought out of some forgotten corner of the the cupboard and 11 th hour efforts were made to bring it to life by new batteries. It used to be sought after even more after as the culmination of Pujo often meant the start of the Indian cricket season. The voice of Suresh Saraiaya etc on AIR and the bengali commentary during an Eden match are everlasting memories , especially as it was savored at the last bench of school with my band of friends glued to the commentary which was just enough for us to hear but faint enough for the physics teacher up front to continue with her tawdry way of teaching. The radio halo continued well into Jan and Feb with the Aussie cricket season and Jim Maxwell at 13.1 MhZ. And then it died a timed death before being resurrected at next year’s Mahalaya. Mahalaya therefore seemed to be a starting point of good times, harbinger of hope and the beginning of a new life. Most importantly, it was a kind of alarm bell for the big event a few days away and cast the die for the biggest festival of Bengal.

    The activities surrounding the coming of Durga Pujo are as interesting as the Pujo itself. The sale of clothing items at discount, the rush to buy everything new, the attempts of housewives to make their homes look sparking clean and of course the school vacation. But to me the things which most certainly made the imminence of Pujo felt was nothing but those pujobarshikis – Anandamela (everything but comics was good) , Suktara (the comics were the selling point) and Sandesh (was good from time to time). These were annual digest sort of books which featured the best writing of the eminent authors. After they were finished as quickly as possible with the aid of a few sleepless nights, I surreptitously looked forward to the time when I could lay my hands on the adult annual digest Desh and Ananadalok when my mom was not around. New clothes made me feel special, the best ones being reserved for the best days (read ashtami and nabami).

    School itself was bursting with excitement a few days before pujo vacation. At that age it seemed like emnacipation from prison for a few days without even being on parole. The real sadistic teachers piled on their homeworks and it really felt fantastic to be away from school for the break. Books were exchanged; wild plans were made about what to to that pujo which would make us adolscents look and feel like adults starting from getting drunk and kissing that girl on whom one had a crush on, to tossing a few chocolate bombs into the house of the cranky old fellow who stopped us from playing cricket as he lost a few window panes, to visiting a prostitute. 60% of those plans remained elusive but the fun came from the detailed ‘The Day of Jackal’ like planning ; the failed execution didnt diminish our vim and vigour to think something even more wilder the next year. That’s how we graduated from children who burst ‘caps’ in toy pistols to adults who quickly found out that adult life wasnt even half as exciting as they had envisaged when they were adolescents. In a social setting where dating was done secretly and was frowned upon , this was the oppotunity for love birds to take advantage of the lax of the society’s stringent policing to have a lot of fun.

    Everything was excused during the pujos. The best part about pujos was not the pandal hopping or the artistic ‘protimas’, but as you had said in your last year’s post: the jois de vivre of people. It is that aspect that made all those big pujos-Maddox Square, College Square, Ekdalia, Babubagan etc. such fantastic places to hang out. Electricity seems to be cracking in the air and out of the bodies of the teeming masses. Irrespective of economic conditions or the state of politics and international affairs, pujos made everyone exude a certain feel-good factor. There is a lot of hope and positive energy floating in the air, old freinds and relatives are met, and new acquiantences are made. In short it is the Christmas, social dates, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter all rolled into one. Diwali is fun and so is holi as is the new year party, but for the sheer environment of Durga pujo, they seemed to pale in comparision to it like a ODI to a classic test match. No wonder therefore that this great occasion is spread over 5 days, and thus the Bengali who missed those 5 days of enjoyment could be excused for thinking that he had missed the best part of the year.

  5. Yeah…GB I agree with Anon..dont u like Mountain Dew? I forgot the food aspect. Our housing society had 5 days of community lunches and dinner. Pujo would be incomplete without the saptami khichuri, ashtami luchi, nabami bhog and dashami mutton to go alongside the roadside rolls and what not besides the goodies at home. There was no mountain dew of all the pujos I saw, but I remember drinking gallons of Thums Up. To this date…thats the best pop Ive had..wonder if it still exists!

  6. Beautiful post Arnabda. I really loved the line:

    “Listening to it at any other time is emotionally unsatisfying—which is why I hate it when they play it during Saraswati Pujo or on any arbitrary day—it’s like hearing the ting-a-ling of the ice-cream vendor when you know that there is no ice-cream in his cart”

    That’s exactly how I feel too, I’d even say it was a mistake for AIR to sell the recording in the first place. Nevertheless, this year it did allow me to hear Mahalaya here in Hyderabad real-time, in half-sleep.
    I have grown up in Allahabad, so I have missed a lot of the Pujo in WB. But I often used to visit my hometown during the Pujo. I like the Pujo of the suburbs more than that of Kolkata. I like the homely feel that the suburban Pujos have.
    Here in Hyderabad the Pujos are few and far apart. Last year I hunted out a couple of pandals and went there. There was only a single day holiday. This year I have an extended weekend at my disposal. Let’s see how I spend it.

  7. That is exactly wat i have been doing for the past 6 years that i have been out of Cal… albeit i am not as affected as I am non-bong but then u will agree that Durga ma does not differentiate between a bong and a non-bong… same goes for Durga pujo festivities…

    I miss ashtomi and nabomi and those long walks for darshan… rite from gariahat to garia… miss seeing buses stuck in a sea of humanity… miss ogling openly at the para “beauties”… and a lot more…

    These days ppl have grown a lil bit more sensible and have stopped sending forwards… I hope I haven’t spoken too soon…

  8. “….that’s a show and a dinner.”

    Very nicely put. A whole lot of ‘done’ stuff in life is reducing to that. Dinner, plus photo op and image uploads or/and a blog entry.

    So many phones – so few to talk to kinda syndrome.

  9. Beautifully written. On the rare occasions I am away from Mysore during Dasara, I do the same – bury my head in the sand.

  10. Great post as usual, GB.

    This pujo will be my fifth Pujo away from Kolkata. I stay in Mumbai where the Pujo celebrations, though not a ‘weekend pujo’, is still a weakened, ‘diasporized’ version. It means that Bengalis in Mumbai are really happy this time the Pujo straddles a weekend and Doshomi is on Oct 2 which is a holiday anyway. Sacrilege for people in Kolkata though. From here in my Bandra office, I can hear the mumurs…’teente chuti maara gelo, kono maane hoi?’

    What I hate most about a ‘diasporized’ pujo is the fact that you are only supposed to enjoy a version of the pujo vibe at home, in the company of a few Bengali friends and perhaps in the far-flung pandals you visit in the sorry hope of finding that ‘electric’ atmosphere that you left back in Kolkata.

    Once you are back at work on Monday, Wednesday or whatever day it is, you have to get on with life, as if nothing as happened. Coz, for the De’Souza, Shetty or Chawla you work with, pujo is just an festival for which Bongs spend (read: waste) five days.

    While it is probably a good idea to insulate yourself from all things pujo during these five days, it’s very hard too. How can you insulate yourself against those leaves of your calendar that says September and October? How can you insulate yourself against that autumnal feel in the air that says this was the time that Ma used do her annual cleaning of each and everything in the house that used to overturn our lives for atleast two days?


  11. Hi Arnab,

    Its the second time am leaving a post here.. and that too bcoz this post too gave me a ‘lump-in-the-throat’ like the previous one.
    I can relate to this feeling of being away from home when you’d really BE home.
    Ganeshotsav is as dear to us as Durga Pujo is for you. Missing the charged atmosphere at home and outside alike in the 10 days of Ganeshotsav is something so very familiar to what you’ev put in your post.

    The celebrations that take place at community gatherings are commendable for the enthusiasm and efforts to bring a piece of the ‘actual’ action to a far-away land, but then.. its not the ‘real’ thing. 🙂

  12. Nice post and thanks for bringing memories. This is my second pujo outside Kolkata (and India). Fortunately, I could be present in my home in Kolkata during pujo every year till 2004 (though working somewhere else outside WB).
    I honestly don’t like the atmosphere of the probasi pujos in Germany (in Stuttgart or Cologne), the reasons being pointed out aptly by you and Bongopondit.

  13. This is the first Puja I will be away from home in the last 18 years. Considering I have seen 25 pujos, that’s a loooooong time,as long as I can remember.
    Now I am working in Mumbai,where I used to come every year, but not during the pujas.The last puja I attended in Bombay was when I was 5 years old, when an old lady remarked to my Ma that she had a very pretty daughter,i.e. me.Considering I am a 120-Kg 6-footer male, I consider that a compliment to my delicate features at childhood.How the times have changed!
    Pujas were special for the community morning anjalis and the Maddox Park evenings.Those were the only times I mustered up courage to chat with the neighbourhood girls.
    There was something in the air.Waking up to the dhak, staying up late for shandhhi puja, accompanying Ma to the mandap at 4 in the morning to see the preparations-these are some of the most beautiful memories of growing up.
    And I loved the crowds.Like Bongda, neither am I a pickpocket or bottom-pincher, but the happiness in the air was so thick you could reach out and touch it, no pun intended.Major crushes,minor heartbreaks,great friendships,small fisticuffs-I have encountered it all.What I hated most was accompanying my ex-girlfriend and her pals to the rides at Vivekananda Park.The giggling girls screamed hysterically with fear but no sooner had the first ride finished,they would rush to the next.I was well and truly scared,especially on the Ferris wheel which was so decrepit that Ferris family should sue them.
    I have my own selfish reasons for not going to Kolkata this year-I had just broken up with my girlfriend of four years and the memories would have been too painful.Hope Ma Durga wouldn’t mind and still bless me enough to enable me to bell the CAT this year.Enough of boring you people with the trivial pursuit of my life.
    P.S. Anyone who thinks I am a big tub of lard at 120 Kg should consider that I work out and have 20″ arms and 145Kg bench press.:)

  14. @Arnab:

    Many of us who no longer stay where they grew up feel similarly. Thanks for articulating that sentiment so effectively.

    This year, some of us staying around Hiranandani in Bombay are also organizing Pujas. We are doing it seriously, busily, some of us even piously, but all of us know, in our heart of hearts, that it can never really the the REAL thing. It’s like the “shingara” we used to have from your “parar mishtir dokan”. You keep searching but can never replicate that taste.

    We can but keep trying, though glitzier pandals, and better lights, and forced joviality, but that aura of the Pujas we experienced in our youth is now a chimera, never to be experienced again.

    Umm…should I then apologise for wishing you Shuho Mahalaya that day?

  15. Tapping into the rich lode of Bong nostalgia? Well written, but I’ve had it up to here with sentu.
    Chembur has a good Puja. CR Park has at least two. Ballygunge? Tough shit.

  16. But living in denial doesn’t really make it go away does it? You still remain keenly aware of the approaching Pujo and have to make an effort to steer away from the websites that flood you with images of Pujo back home. And agreed that Pujo overseas is a charade and all that you say. But isn’t every Bong out there just trying to do exactly the same thing? Relive the flavor, the good old days of Pujo back home in their own way.
    Every pujo since I have been in the US I have missed the festivities back home in Cal. I have lived off the internet trying to fool myself into believing that I was taking part in Pujo. That I was home in Cal and stuck at home watching pujo Porikroma on TV. But it never worked. But I have also come to realize that Pujo may not be the same for me anymore even if I do get the chance to be back in Cal this time of the year. Because Pujo and the feeling was all about a time and place which does not exist anymore except in my memories. My friends have moved on. I have moved on. No longer will I enjoy spending the entire day in Maddox square checking out guys. No longer will I have a huge group of friends to go out with from pandal to pandal. And going out for dinner with the family will not be the same anymore either. Because now I’m married and I am expected to take part in things that they normally do. Coming to think of it, Pujo will not be the same anymore. And i think it would make me sadder if i had to face that kind of reality.
    So I guess i am better off in the confines of my internet browsing, wishing and missing, fooling myself with nostalgia. And may be in that very brief instant when I go to the local NRI Pujo and block out the people around me, close my eyes and give ‘anjoli’ I may even be able to make myself believe that I am home where i want to be.

  17. “…The reason I have not is simply because if anything, Pujo means being at home, in the company of people you know—I suppose the sense of belonging a cat gets when it curls up on its favourite rug.”
    You caputured the essence just right!I have been bogged down by several colleagues and fellow bengalis in office and otherwise asking if I am going to Kolkata for pujo and then i had to go at lengths explaining, no, but I still miss pujo back at home i.e. Delhi a lot!They huff n scoff, moving on muttering “kolkatar pujo chara ar ki pujo hoye…dillir pujo ar ki pujo naki”
    Then over the time I’ve realised that it’s that sense of belonging which matters during such festivities and probably the reason why they have never been able to accept the fact that “Dilli r Pujo o Pujo hoye” [:)]

  18. Anything which starts at 6:00 AM in the morning by definition is unhealty. I however have tremendous respect for free loochi and aloo-r dum. Hence I drove all the 50 miles to the Maryland kalibari to eat the loochi.. I mean attend the Mohaloya. You should have done the same. If not for the emotional satisfaction, but certainly for the loochi ! Think about it. 🙂

  19. Erokom koro na! As it is people at home are looking forward to the day when I fly the nest (they refuse to entertain the idea that I might not, afterall, go saat somudro paar :D). Don’t make me any more reluctant than I already am! You’ll have my family to answer to. Warn kore dilam kintu.

  20. Nice post, although I do not agree with you completely.Its been ten years for me, out of country but I do make it a point to attend the probasi Durga Pujo where ever Iam. Istead of spending my Pujo days in a morose state of mind I try to enjoy whatever little I can with my non bong aethist husband and my kid.

    Why is everybody so bitter about NRI Probasi Pujo? Instead we should admire their efforts in trying to do a pujo so far away from home. In my Thakurda’s house we have Pujo in our house ( with ekchala Protima) and we still do. Only thing which I guess, bothers my ears is the way the so called priest do the pujo because I am so used to hearing the right mantra clearly pronounced by the priest but i try to ignore it because the essence of Pujo is not just the religious part but a whole lot of different things and we all know what those are.
    I think we should not even get miffed by some Aunty talking about her jewelley and Sari nor should we block ourselves from the surrounding. That’s another essence of Pujo, where we always try to dress our best. At least back home we used to get four days to do so and here you get only half a day or at the most a full day.

    So I hope, our GB with his wife will attend the NRI Pujo and try to enjoy it also. Iam telling you, it is also fun trying to get back early from work on a Friday afternoon and trying to put up a Pujo for Saturday morning with others like you. I know there is no comparison but atleast something is better then nothing.
    Thanks for letting us put our titbits. I guess I got nostalgic about Pujo a bit too much and hence a long comment.

  21. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Everybody has his or her nostalgia and everybody thinks that what is lost in the past is so golden. Well, that is human psychology. We also need the distance – both physical and emotional to appreciate what we had. To lose ones childhood, teenage years and even youth is painful – isn’t it? All these nostalgias about Durga Pujas, Ganesh pujas are just manifestation of our sadness for our lost past, lost innocence, lost dreams, lost love.

  22. @BongoPondit: Too many years…it’s time you scheduled a home-visit.

    @Anon: Too many empty calories.

    @Gautam: Thank you.

    @Yourfan2: As usual, a lovely detailed comment. Oh yes the planning…this Pujo I will propose to Piyali….and as usual nothing would ever happen. And alas I had no housing cooperative Pujo…which is why I was deprived of many of the pleasures of those 5 days.

    @Joy Forever: Do blog about it…

    @Sumod: Indeed it doesn’t. And one of the biggest Kolkata Pujos in Sealdah has always had many Muslims on its organizing community…Durga Pujo transcends everything.

    @Sameer: Could not agree with you more.

    @Mohan: Hmm.

    @RahulGhosh: Of course you cannot. I haven’t been able to..despite my information blackout.

    @Snehal: Yes can totally relate to what you say.

    @Anirban: Can never relate to the Bengali expats here….

    @Anon: Ex-girlfriend issues. Been there. Done that.

    @Shan: No please no–no need to apologize :-). Incidentally, its your “wish” that reminded me of Mahalaya—I had totally blanked it out.

    @AQC: Sorot Kaal. Sentu time.

    @M(Tread Upon Softly): Feel exactly the same way about Maddox Square and friends. Very nice comment.

    @Saswati: My wife, whose a Probasi Bangali from CR Park, swears by the Pujo there and thinks Kolkata holds not a candle to CR Park.

    @Bald Monkey: Will do.

    @Rimi: Am warned. But this stage will come to thy…many years hence.

    @Suzi: Point taken. But as “M” said, maybe it’s our age and our location which makes it no longer the same.

    @Yourfan: “To lose ones childhood, teenage years and even youth is painful – isn’t it? All these nostalgias about Durga Pujas, Ganesh pujas are just manifestation of our sadness for our lost past, lost innocence, lost dreams, lost love.”

    So true.

  23. oh come on now…chins up greatbong.being a probashi bengali, i figure i lost out on the real thing-mahalaya,parar soondari, bhog etc,etc.however,pujo is pujo.you can run,but not hide. after all these years away from home, there’s still the sense of awe,being in the presence of a probashi protima who seems to follow you with her eyes, the exhilarating smell of incense, the fresh flowers from mashima’s garden,dada’s khichoori and labra!ofcourse intertwined with all of that is the ‘natok’that nobody cares to watch , the endless recitation and dances which serves as a showcase for everyone’s talent or a lack thereof.despite it all, it’s a time of year to connect , put aside pettiness, participate in the sindoor-khela and most of all revel in the knowledge that you are in the company of friends.

  24. Porechho Ki Hoptomaan(Hauptmann)
    Kimba Sudharmaan(Sudermann)
    Kavyyer swadharma Bonge
    Tai tumi mriyamaan

  25. Ah, I agree with you, well said – its no fun if you’re not in Kolkata come rain, hail and thunder to catch a glimpse of Durga ma’s face, taking in the dhoop and the dhaak and chants of the priest – I’m all nostalgic now but having tasted the real thing have no desire for substitutes!

  26. Dun worry a time will come and u will be at home during puja.. till then continue with your efforts..:-)
    shubho pujo.. till then.. ( I hope I got it right)

  27. Kathakali Chatterjee September 27, 2006 — 2:59 pm

    Excellent writing Arnab!

    Just received the ‘pujo sankhyas’ this morning by Fed-Ex; watching the clock to get back home…

    That’s my concept of ‘pujo’! 😀

  28. waaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!! big lump in throat and all that. Five yrs in the US and am still not used to this weekend rubbish of celebrations. my version of pujo is back at home in Delhi – rehearsing for song/dance programs, serving luchi torkari on oshtomi and shopping! shopping!! plus my pujo gang of friends… those crazy pandal hopping, movie watching, romance brewing days of fun!! 😀

  29. Shubho Durga-Soshti.

    I don’t have any grudge against the NRI pujos. Atleast it gives the NRIs a little bit of flavour of what happens back home. If Mumbai / Delhi, etc. wouldn’t have had their pujos then what would have happened to the probasis? The NRI pujos are just an extension of these probasi pujos.

    Heres a link to the NRI pujo in Europe.


    Bolo Durga Mai ki joi.

    Durga Durga.

  30. I am in Kolkata…Sector V! It was raining just half-hour back, got drenched on way to office. Here we can’t hear the announcement for Anjali over the loud-speaker. Venetian blinds block out the silver-blue Saradiya sky. Shiuli phuler gandho is out of question…smells mildly of some obscure room freshner..

    We are talking to or working for people ‘Sat Sagarer Pare’ and do not pent and pine (outwardly) for Pujo..when, just about 14 kms away from this place Madox Square is teeming with life and laughter..!

    Its a fast-changing world, friend..does not always matter if you are in Kolkata or in Kendal 😦

  31. Today is Saptami. I am in Office. Away from Kolkata, in Bangalore. Mercifully (albeit total disgruntlement of Kolkatans) next three days are holidays. I will visit some pandals. Hopefully, this time I can hear the dhak.

    I have been away for Kolkata for about a decade. Last time I was in Kolkata was four years back. When you are not in Kolkata, only time you can visit a pandal during any pujo would be in the evening, since most of these days ended up being weekdays. By the time you visit the pandal, some cultural programme is on. So, no dhak. How I pine for the dhaker mishti sur and the dhakir naach. In Kolkata, even if its a weekday and one travels to work, one can still hear dhak on the way. Its next to impossible in other cities unless the venue falls on the way.

    Know guys, what I miss the most during the pujo days? Getting up from bed early in the morning (well to me 6:00 hrs is early enough to boast about), rather woken up by the mishti dhaker bajna, while you are still in bed wrapped in a blanket with the fan at five. Nothing, atleast to me, can come anywhere near as divine as this.

    There’s somthing about the pujo that make my eyes go moist whenever I think of it, away from Kolkata. I get so emotional thinking about those good old days. I wish my son can, at some point in time, understand the mental trauma I go through during these days whenever I am away from Kolkata. I know its a wishful thinking, but ….

  32. Hi guys,

    I know most of you would have sene this, yet I am pasting this link. tohse of you who have not, enjoy….




  33. Arnab, try visiting “Pujo”s in London atleast once in your life……its a five day AFFAIR (caps intended) out here…..

    you’ll enjoy it for many many reasons…..all of which I leave onto your imagination…..

  34. I have gone through the writing of GB and others. My experience is of different type. I was settled at Pondicherry for 30 years after leaving Kolkata. We have organised a bengalee club at Pondicherry and we do celebrate durga puja at a scale. I used to take part in it from 4 am to night 12 as I did at Kolkata before coming to Pondicherry. Lat one year I have shifted to Chennai. My memory of Pondicherry Durga pujo has got totlay erased but memory of Kolkata remains alive. I cannot forget the joy I had working those days starting with mahalaya followed by the day we used to go to Kumartuli to bring mother. While our way to pandle we will pass red road in the early morning seven when the sunlight and shadow of trees followed by flying hair of mother will make us feel that ma has some alive.Year after year it has repeated and we used to cry ma mago. During the puja days the preparation for anjali,aroti and the dhanuchi naach was all done by me.Tired and exhosted I will return home to get up next morning to cut fruits for MA. Today at the fag end of life sitting in the small room at Chennai I dream for those golden days but never in my mind Pondicherry comes alive. I develop now blood pessure and other problems being away from Pujo. Today my son took me to Chennai Kali bari to see durga pujo. I was shocked and sad. Other than the image and the priest I could see no bengalee. The dance was bharatnatyam but no bengalee programme. It hurts me so I left within 15 minuites. Coming home at corner of the room sitting alone with tearful eyes I glanced through my past viewing the durga pujo.Golden days are gone and it will never come back again.

  35. Wait till u have a kid or two. The same corwded probashi durga puja will remain as the sole reminder or an original festival. To rub it in , you will have to attend a handful of christmas plays and carols shortly after the pujas and pretend to enjoy it like bathing in bliss. Anyway theres far better things to miss in the “probashi” life for instance simply lazing around all day. …

  36. Dear GB,
    let me make you jealous.

    I am having a wonderful pujo in Barrackpore.Went pandal hopping with daughter and sister-in-law. Ate bhog. Daughter won first prize at dhunuchi naach. Even I danced at the free-for-all. Left all the paara boys gaping at my daring. Sister-in-law later discovers crater on the dance floor.
    The cook, bless her soul, has dished up ilish-bhaapa, paarshe-maachh bhaja and fabulous maachher-maathhar torkari.
    Paarar mishtir dokaan, ShreeShree Durga, has delighted us by manufacturing chhaanar payesh and melting-in-the-mouth sorts of sandesh without any articicial colouring or flavours.

    Wore comfortable new clothes, even the new footwear did not cause blisters.

    Pujo just can’t get any better than this.

  37. Shubho Bijoya to Greatbong , GB-Ginni and family. 🙂

    Rima Bhattacharyya.

  38. If you’re intent on avoiding Pujo nostalgia, don’t look at these snapshots of the pandals last weekend…


    … or this politically-incorrect take on Kolkata 🙂


  39. Was at home for Pujo after a gap of 2 years …didn’t do anything very special, neither was the whole experience very pleasant, what with the wave of humanity, eternals jams, and night long ‘annoucements’ …but given a chance, would again go next year 🙂

  40. I believe that for all of us who are Probasi Bong for professional reasons, the thought of Puja in W.B., particularly Kolkata is nostalgia, sadness with little sweet thoughts. This year I spent the Saptami at Delhi and the other 3 days at our Salt Lake residence. Take it from me, it wasn’t fun. At the end of it, you were left with the thought of going back to work, tensions, pressure and competion in professinal and personal life. Besides the very thought of uncertainty about visiting your para pujo next year leaves you high and dry!

    Gone were those days, when the sight of kas-phul in the barren field of Salt Lake filled the mind of a youth with joy, and even, romance used to follow naturally. These days I see more kas-phul in Delhi than in Kolkata, sadly minus the romance. However, the drum-beat is still as sweet as ever. If you can ignore the flood and the suffering of the poor in Bengal, then you can even enjoy the various themes in the pandals and idols. Then there is the bangali adda with lot of food and drinks with friends! These days I wonder how do these youths on the street manage so much leisure time when we see everyone elsewhere getting busier by the day!

    The Sharadiya publications are still there, in fact Desh, Ananadamela and Anandabazar have become more colourful. Casually, going through the contents, you look for some old magic- where are those novels on Feluda in Desh, or Professor Shanku in Ananadamela or at least the Kakababu or Neellohit? Oh Godddes! Could you not bring back those days!

  41. guru, bapok hoeche bara

  42. i m udai goswami Age 35 Years, a priest in Udaipur, Rajasthan & doing
    all type of puja from last 12 years encluding Durga Puja. If there is
    any requirement regarding durga puja, i can send my resume accordingly.
    with regards,

  43. i really miss my pujo back home…

  44. Fascinating that one could miss a festival so much. What is it that makes durga puja so special? Must be the community celebration quotient.
    When I a non bengali who has visited Kolkata all of 4 times could feel a connect, get attracted to the beauty of the script and learn it on my own, this sense of belonging during DP should not be surprising..

  45. The missing magic elsewhere is the people. They make the pujas in Kolkata. The combined spirit of millions from all hues of life is the electricity that makes Durga puja at home so special to me. I have been around in many parts of the world, visited probashi pujas outside Kolkata, but nothing comes anywhere near the magnetic allure of being a part of the collected human happiness over the 5 days

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