Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Navratri and Durga Puja: A Tale of Two Cities






Pic 1: Blue Skies with Cottony Clouds
and Kaash Flowers
Well, it’s that time of the year again, when the sky seems a clear blue fraught with cottony clouds all over. The ka ash flower blooms in glory, as if bowing to the Mother Goddess, who is about to arrive very soon. In fact, as legend says, on Mahalaya (the last day of Pitru Paksha), the Goddess announces her arrival.  The shiuli and the sthala padma flower also blooms during this time. 


          
          Pic 2: Shiuli/Shefali Flower





Pic 3: Sthala Padma/Land Lotus



          
I have heard grandmothers say, that the Goddess Durga loves these flowers, and so they are found in abundance during this time of the year.

Each year on Mahalaya, my heart begins to leap with joy, thinking that Durga Puja is right here. And the story is same this year too. The songs of Mahalaya kind of tell you that the Holy Mother is about to be with us, to bless us with joy, peace, happiness and prosperity. Truly speaking, I’m fortunate that am a Bengali damsel, otherwise I wouldn’t have got a chance to experience the festive fervor of Durga Puja ever.

Hence, when I left home to work in Pune, I promised myself, come what may, I’ll have to be in the city during those four magical days. And fortunately, I have been able to keep my word all these years, except twice. Touch wood!

This year, I’m going too (yipppppyyy yay yay) but first to my in-laws’ place in Jamshedpur (JSR)/Tatanagar and then to my lifeline and my city, Kolkata. And boy I’m mighty glad. J




Pic 4: Oct 2011: The Durga Idol in our JSR home




Pic 5: A creative pandal in JSR

Let me tell you a little bit about the puja in Jamshedpur. I got to experience the Durga Puja festivity in Jamshedpur(JSR), last year. My in-laws live in a flat, where the society organizes a Durga Puja themselves. This means you get a chance to help perform the rituals and witness the Puja very closely. What I love most is – you dont need to cook at home –  the whole society lunches and dines together. Isn't that wonderful?







Pic 6: Me (on the extreme Left) with my In Laws on Ashtami morning
 
The best thing in Jamshedpur is the cultural programs organized on all the days of the Puja. So after the evening aarti programs begin, which include songs, dance and orchestra. The orchestra is a hit with the masses, where people dance crazily to the tunes of popular songs. At times, you may get to watch a Kishore Kumar or a Mohd. Rafi nite too.
Most of the pandals in JSR are organized in huge playgrounds, which make life so easy on the roads. So you can drive to the farthest corners of the city, without much difficulty. Along with the pandals, fairs are held, where you could buy many handicraft items. The whole experience of Durga Puja in JSR is about eating and merrying.
Coming to Kolkata – I just love the joyous mood in my City of Joy, weeks before Durga Puja. Here, the scene is quite different than JSR. The whole city is decorated with lights and Durga Puja pandals are everywhere, even encroaching the roads. You can hear popular songs, Bengali songs, and Rabindrasangeet round the clock. People dressed in their best, flock to see the creative pandals and to eat the yummy street side food of Kolkata that include rolls, fuchka etc. To sum up, Durga Puja in the eastern part of the country is a wonderful extravaganza which is celebrated with zest and must be witnessed at least once.
I’ll be away for two weeks to pray and to have fun and I’m sure you’ll have fun too.  All I’ll ask the Anonodomoyee Mahamaya to bless me and my family with this:
Rupang Dehi, Jayang Dehi, Yasho Dehi, Disho Dehi
So here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Durga Puja. And to those who will be fasting during Navratri, keep strong and Jai Mata Di! As I part, here's a pic of Puja in California, USA, where the Goddess has already arrived this weekend, yes even before Mahalaya!


Pic 7: Centerville Junior High Puja in Fremont, California, USA

Navratri greetings to everyone! Please do share how you plan to celebrate this festival below. I'd love to know.



Pic 8: Centerville Junior High Puja in Fremont, California, USA

Pic Courtesy:
Pic 1-3: Google Images
Pic 4-6: My Personal Archive
Pic 7, 8: Aishani Banerjee