DURGAPUJA IN KOLKATA : A NOSTALGIA LONG LASTING

DURGAPUJA IN KOLKATA : A NOSTALGIA LONG LASTING

This afternoon while returning from the nearby vegetable market we both, myself and my grand daughter, were walking too slow during the last lap of our journey, for, we were crossing the pandal of our neighbourhood Durgapuja. We stopped for a while, and, watched how the women members of the organizing group preparing themselves for the last rituals for the final journey of the Durgamata and her four children. Most of the decorative items of the pandal were already stripped down. At this point my grand daughter made this comment “I always feel sad on this day, the Doshomi….. this means the Durga Pujo is over and a wait begins for a whole one     year !” I had no option but to admit that I too since her age, always felt the same way. I bet, you ask any Calcuttan, of any age, belonging to any state or religion, she or he would always felt the same way.

***********************************************************12-stunning-Durga-Puja-themes-venues-in-South-Kolkata

cs-05Durgapuja, in Kolkata, and, all over the state, is a festival dear to one and all and a show-case of true secular spirit. Everyone whole heartedly participate.

images 2How the pujas are held ? Let us get an idea. There are various types of pujas now.

Bonedi Barir Pujo (Puja held by erstwhile zamindars or famous families of Bengal). These pujas are normally held at the permanent Thakur Dalan (Festival Arena). These are the oldest pujas, and there are many such family-pujas still being celebrated .

images 3Baroari Pujo (Puja held by Community of Friends) “Baroari” literary means twelve friends. Legend has it that 12 young men from a zamindar house came together and started the first community puja. This is the lifeline of the Durga Puja of Bengal There are 28000 such community pujas in Bengal. Kolkata holds about 3000 large size such Friends Community pujas. These are held by collecting donation from locality, sponsorship and patronage by various shops, factories and industries.

Housing Estate Puja – These are the new entrants. A large number of multi-storied buildings with many flats have come up all over the state. Each building organizes a Durgapuja.

images 5So, in all there are a large number places pujas are held with pomp and glories. The decorations made, especially by the Community Pujas, on the Puja Pandal (Puja Arena) are spectacular. Each one is a creative and very unique exhibit. Various industries announce the best pujas and make cash awards to the best decorated Puja. This made the event competitive and interesting ! It is normally a 4-day event, but, these days many pujos linger on — they start a few days early and delay their “final day” . There are a large number of crowd from early morning, through whole night on pandal hopping ! There are many temporary food stalls and restaurants who arrange additional chairs and tables.

images 7images 8images 6images 11images 9

dp 5

THIS TEMPORARY ALL-SILVER PANDAL HAS RS. 40 CRORE TAG !

PHOTO SOURCE : GOOGLE IMAGES

 

Advertisements

Songs on Women’s Empowerment

Here are 4 songs. These Bengali songs form part of our village level campaign, by team SWADHINA ,  at times with small street plays. On this GANDHI JAYANTI we remember the large section of women who still have a long journey to make to reach towards living a life with equality and dignity.

CLICK HERE

VISWAKARMA – a celebration: DOWN THE NOSTALGIC LANE

VISWAKARMA : DOWN THE NOSTALGIC LANE

This is one Puja which always fascinates mvk004e. For several interesting reasons.

This is the only Puja which follow an English Calender and held every year on the 17th of September !! Therefore easy to remember the day.

  • – This is a very secular event which is celebrated ardently by one and all.
  • – Viswakarma is the god of machineries, in all forms, be it factory machines or automotive for that matter. Viswakarma will have a chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other
  • – Somehow, in this part of the land he is also the god of kite flying !.

Every moving or stationary machinery is offered a puja on this day – computers included ! Flowers are placed on the machine, a incense stick is lighted and the puja ends with distribution of sweets. If affordable, sometimes gala lunch for all dear ones.

***********************************************************

Deep is all excited about the day and could not sleep the night before, and, at least three times woke up and checked the wall clock – no, it was still time for sun rise. He got up from the sleep with the loud noise of a loud speaker playing hindi songs ! Ha, it is the Viswakarma Puja day, and, the local plastic factory is celebrating its first Viswakarma Puja . He is Mr. B Sarkar, an enterprising Christian young who started this factory recently. Soon there are noises vk003of many loud speakers playing songs and there is an air of festivity in the area. Deep took out his Latai (the wooden reel for storing cord) and a variety of Kites and went up to the neighbour’s roof top for flying the kites. The kite flying session went on till evening, with a short lunch break, for this Deep had to come down to his home and some how gulp something.

By evening Deep had a bath and came out on the street for a puja pandal (decorated arena) hopping. He was joined by three other friends, all teen agers. They went straight to the large factory near the railway track. This is the only day when the main gate of the factory will be kept wide open for a free for all entry. There was a very friendly worker of the factory who took them around the factory premises and showed them the huge machineries which make railway parts. A little later there was a film show and Deep joined the crowd gather there and enjoyed the movie.

vk001There after they came down to the medicines facotory. Here they attended a musical show. There after they joined the dinner ! It was an elaborate fare with rice, dal, curry fish and meat curry. A large number of people of the locality joined the dinner.

***********************************************************************

vk002This year the Viswakarma was celebrated in the area, but, it was quite a different event. There was no kite flying. Even a couple of years ago there were still some boys flying kites with a lot of enthusiasm. The plastice factory has long shut its door and a housing complex has come in its place. The factory on the railway track is stands as a show piece and not much production. The medicine factory still organize a puja – the only one survived the test of times, but, held the puja with much less fan fare. New entrants for the Viswakarma are different now.

Early morning met the Sikh Sardarji early in the morning who informed that his car is washed early in the morning and decorated with flowers and a puja was held for his taxi.

vk007The high rise building staff organized a puja, especially for the machineries like Elevators, Water Pumps etc. used in the building. The Viswakarma idol was very nice here.

Every taxi held its puja with tender banana trees and flowers.

Well !! This is the hard realities of life….. there are many things which remain alive only in write up like this, and, we have nothing to complain. “Charei betee, chareibetee” ( lets move on and on )!!

 

Every house celebrating the puja will have a decorated earthen pot with a little banana plant and a tender coconut, it is the basic preliminary ritual.

BAKRID IN CALCUTTA : 50 YEARS AGO

BAKRID IN CALCUTTA : 50 YEARS AGO

There is an overall aura of happiness in the house…Deep’s elder sister and mother both are engrossed in making the ginger and garlic paste, using the heavy crushing stone. Deep has already made two visits outside, at the main-road junction. No, the black Landmaster car is yet to be seen. Ah, soon the car surely will arrive, with the meat of qurbani from Hashim Sahib’s home. Today is the Bakrid Day !

goat meat 2

pix courtesy : Google

Deep’s father always says ‘we are poor, but that is our pride’. Going was tough for the family, with four children, and with a meager salary that his father was earning as an LDC. Deep knows the full form of LDC- Lower Division Clerk ! It is not that they do not get to eat meat. Every Sunday his father buys goat meat from local shop of Abdul. One Poa (quarter of a seer – about 200 gram) for the whole family of 6. The mutton curry will have a lot of potatoes and lot of light gravy. Deep gets 3 small pieces, nothing to complain. Mother takes only one piece and a few potato pieces – it seems she does not like meat! (It is years later Deep realized that mother did like meat, but never had much choice than just to accept one piece !). But on a Bakrid Day it is different. Every year mother will serve large serving spoon full of meat, and every time Deep finishes the plate, mother will insist he takes a bit more rice and some more meat ! Oh, great day !

Deep is third time lucky ! The black car finally arrives, and Deep goes near the car enthusiastically and asks the driver “ house number 34, Doctor Memsaab” ? “Yes, come on in, show me the house”. Deep takes the short ride and the car stops near Doctor Memsaab’s house, located next to Deep’s house. Inside the car were large brass trays, on which large chunk of meat were placed. The trays were covered by nicely embroidered white cloth coverings. There were several such trays, taken to the house one by one. Deep could not wait any longer and ran home “Mom, it has arrived, several trays.. a lot of meat.”

The next thing would be a loud call from the next door. It  would be the voice of Boro Masi (Eldest Aunt) . “Deep, come on, bring some large vessels”.

Boro Masi was the eldest sister of Deep’s mother.  Doctor Memsaab (we fondly called her Granny) was Boro Masi’s mother in law. And then, like every year, the rest of the routine will follow. Mom will cut the meat into large pieces … lot of them,  in a large pot and cook in coal-fired oven for long time. The entire home will be filled in with the nice aroma of spices.

Goat-meat

pix courtesy : Google

During lunch time everyone will be on a joyous mood, and, every year all will agree in unison that Hashim Saahib always gives the very best qurbani meat.

Hashim Saahib was a businessman, owner of several cinema halls in the central part of Calcutta. Doctor Memsaab was the family doctor. She was very able senior retired nurse, and in those days such person in all practical purpose was entrusted with all health matter of the entire family. Most of child delivery was administered by Doctor Memsaab, at home itself. She made a daily visit to the family, check every one -starting from checking the blood pressure of the elders to the treating common cold of the children in Hashim Saahib’s family. She was respected and revered very much in the family, and, the idea of sending so much meat to her was that this kind lady will keep a little for the family, and, the rest will be shared among the neighbours. One of the important aspect of Bakrid was sharing of  Qurbani meat with poor neighbours.

************************************************

This annual festivity for us continued many years, even after the death of our dear Granny. The children of Hashim family, continued the tradition for many more years.We still do get qurbani meat. Our old house-keeping aunty, Jameela Bibi who still feels I am his ‘little son`, collects meat from a couple houses around her slum,  and comes in the evening and hands me over the meat. HAPPY BAKRID !

New Year – Celebrations Continue !

IMG_20180107_213715Celebration Continues !

It was the first Sunday of this new Year and Jojo, the present generation of the Nathaniels   came around noon to inform that there would be a small family get-together at the Nathaniel House.  The next thing he did was to rush to the Entally market to get the items to be cooked.

It was a dinner party and we were about 10 people- young and old, and, of course the children. The menu was simple – rice, dhal, pork vindaloo and pork sausages, green salads, dhania chutney. No  eating in Bengal is complete without sweets, and, there were sweet items galore. Sweet Curd, Sandesh, a special  IMG_20180107_213250rosomalai and rossogolla dipped in nolen gur syrup.

The pork vindaloo cooked by Jhumpa  i.e. Mrs. Jojo was awesome, after ages I could taste such a perfect vindaloo and despite a lot of warning (agreed I am quite old now- but if the food is too good !!)  I took large helpings.

It was a nostalgic journey. I was narrating about the good old days when Christmas at the Nathaniels meant basically Pulao, roast and  chicken kassa. My aunty alias Bordi Mashi alias Mrs. Sunny Nathaniel was a great cook, and, I was a great eater !

The function continued till late night. Thanks dear Jojo-Jhumpa ! This indeed is a very nice memory to cherish.

(Nathaniel House christened as “Sunny Side”, and the senior Nathaniel i.e. ‘Sunny Sahib’)

IMG_20180107_211340IMG_20180107_211329

 

 

 

Christmas Time @ Ballygunge Christian Para 2017

Its CHRISTMAS ! A sure time for the area to enjoy to the fullest. It is Ballygunge Christian Para. This is a small community of Christian families. This settlement is about 100 years old. Not many are aware about this tiny Christian Para (area) in Ballygunge, in the southern most corner of Kolkata.  From Ballygunge Phari if you come down to Bondel Road, opposite Deys Medical Factory you would locate a lane, besides the Shiv Temple. Come through this lane…. You are at Ballygunge Christian Para. Now a days it is easier to locate because of two high-rise buildings that came up recently i.e.  Orbit Sky Garden and Asha Towers.

The Christmas celebration centres around the small church here. Earlier this was a mud walled church with tiled roof, until recently when a two storied church building

IMG_20171217_181733

Church adorns a large hording -Santa on his sledge !

came up. The celebration is not limited to Christians only,  all communities of the locality happily participate in various activities like decorating the area etc.

Come…. Join the celebration !

IMG_20171224_164031

IMG_20171224_164019

Every family decorates. The Nathaniels has a bold banner !

The church entrance has been decorated with a nativity display which attract good crowd.

Mukherji family has an elaborate christmas decoration with a lots of coloured lights !

 

 

 

“Auto-Man”

THIS INDIA, ONE INDIA

Despite our varied cultural plurality and many known – unknown sectarian identity, at the core of us we ARE ONE, JUST ONE INDIA. No amount of difference, be it religion, region or language can break our tolerance.  I have planned to pen down a series on this very bondage that makes us  One … ONE INDIA.

This is the second in the series….. “Auto-Man” !


I was still standing at the Reception Counter of Vellore Hospital and trying to explain things. But somehow could not make the person follow of what I was wanting! To my rescue came an elderly gentleman and asked me about my queries. I was those days working in Bangalore. There was a Community Health Training programme organised jointly by CMC and a voluntary organisation. My wife is involved in an NGO, in Calcutta, and they had sent 4 participants for this event. She told me to meet them and greet them. I explained all these to this gentleman. He apparently was aware of this event and vellore temple2directed me to go to the Rural Campus of CMC. He said any auto-rickshaw driver would know the place and take me there.

I came to the auto-rickshaw stand and got hold of one who readily agreed to take me there. He was more enthused when I told him that I would go there for about ten minutes and then return again, which would mean he would have an assured return fare.

With the word ‘go’ my ordeal started. After about five minutes journey our man stopped the Auto-rickshaw, digged in his hands into the dash board, collected some stuff andvelore mosque vanished into oblivion. In about 4 minutes he returned, singing happily, he started driving again. He explained that the Rural Campus is the place where CMC has training premise, and, he assured me that I would like the place for its scenic beauty. I was indeed enjoying the outskirt area. But lo, behold. My amusement was short lived. Our man again stopped his auto-rickshaw, digged his hand into the dashboard again and vanished somewhere. This time he returned after a little more time than his last trip. I, on my  part, did a wrong thing this time. I peeped into his hand and could catch the glimpse of a matchbox! Now I knew what was happening. This man must be a hard core drug addict, could not even stop for more than 15 minutes before he goes for a next puff ! I decided to give him a full lecture on this bad habit once we return to Vellore, no matter even if I am late in returning to Bangalore.

As  promised I could finish my visitation within ten minutes. Those colleagues of my wife were  visibly happy as they were invited to visit Bangalore on their return journey to Calcutta once they complete this training.

vellore churchOn our way back, only once our Auto-rickshaw stopped for a while, this time at a semi urban spot. Once he returned, placed back the matchbox into the dashboard and started his vehicle….. I barged in with my first question, “Since how long are you taking this” ? To this our man wore a very perplexed look and shot back “Sorry, Sir, I could not get you”.  “Okay, okay…. Let me be straight. Taking  drugs can be fun, but you know it would soon ruin you, more over I am sure you must be wasting much of your hard earned money on it. And do not try to cover up…. I saw you taking the matchbox, and, also some packet in your hand”.

Our man got the auto-rickshaw halt to a standstill. Came very near to me and said “No one has told me the things that you are telling. Of course my ways of doing things must have made you to think this way “ ! He quietly walked near the dashboard, took out the things. He handed over me those stuff –  a small pack of agarbattis, a small pack of vermillion, a matchbox.  Then he narrated. “ Sir, I have a small but nice family. My sole earning is from this auto-rickshaw. As you come out of CMC Hospital and take this small road to Rural Campus there is a Mosque. Every evening , without fail, I make a short prayer there. Then further up, there is a temple where I say a small prayer for the happiness of my family. And finally near the CMC there is a very old church. I never fail to pray here at least once in the evening. Believe me Sir it gives me happiness for my entire family. Just think Sir, my family gets happiness showered from all ! Balaji, Allah & Jesus … what else do I need!”

*************************************************************

Around night I took a bus to Bangalore. I had a very guilt feeling. Our man must have returned home, happily eating his night meal and must be telling his wife “You know, today I met a gentleman ….. a good man – but with a very narrow mind !”