The Bengalis not only have a nose for fishes but also for the palpable scent of the autumn breeze. The spanning stretches of kash phool fills our minds with joy and brimming emotions of- pujo asche (puja is coming). Every Bengali, irrespective of where they stay, wait for these four days of Durga Puja like an eager child, waiting for a candy on his way back home from school. This festival never confined anyone into any social barrier. We say Maa Durga comes to her father’s home from Kailash, and these few days are meant to spend with utmost happiness and ecstasy, it’s the daughter’s homecoming after all. In Bengal, preparations start off months before as we see bamboo sticks piled up in almost every corner, preparing to be made into the most gorgeous pandals. But, puja vibes for a Bengali outside Bengal is more impetuous. Here’s summing up the pujo bhab (puja feel) of the Probashi Bengalis.
What is pujo without shopping and planning?
No one can keep a Bengali away from shopping when puja is near. New clothes in puja is a priority for each day. In these four days of festival, we Bengalis must look our best. That makes every frenzied Bengali haul, to get the most recent, in-fashion outfit for puja. They’ll do anything, but get exhausted to prep-up for puja. The mandatory question being: “Kota jama holo?” (How many dresses did you get?) Planning hangouts to listing what-food-to-eat, Bengalis all around the world gear up for pujo as soon as the weather welcomes autumn.
Homecoming or not?
Many Bengalis, around the world, wait for Durga Puja to go home. Preparations start off weeks before, by applying for leave applications in offices and colleges. Homecoming during puja is priceless. The whole family waits to get re-united during the days of the festival. The ones who do not go back home, have their own way of creating a mini-Bengal wherever they live. Researching on the best pandals around, the popular adda points (gossip centres) and best places to hog on food being the top criteria for us. Bengalis always find out ways to celebrate Durga puja in a pompous manner.
Recitation of Mahishasurmardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra on Mahalaya
We, Bengalis drag ourselves out of bed every year on Mahalaya to hear the recital of Goddess Durga defeating Mahishasur at 4 AM in the morning. Even though we Bengalis hear it every year, we never miss this auspicious habit. We say that, it is how the Goddess was invoked and from that day on she starts her journey with her children Earthwards. Though none of the radio channels outside Bengal play the recital, each and every Bengali staying away from home somehow manages to hear it- either online or having it already with them. And the end ritual of sharing sweets with one another is marking the happiness of the worth-waiting festival to come around again after another whole year.
The most awaited four days of
The four days of puja doesn’t really change for Bengalis outside Bengal. The same dhaak er aawaj (beats of dhaak) fills a Bengali’s heart with joy. The same Dhunuchi Naach (dancing with earthen pots of incense) drives us to exhilaration. The special prayer offered at Ashthami’r Anjali (invocation of blessings on Ashthami) is performed by each and every one of us. Also, not a single Bengali misses the chance of eating non-veg these four days, while everyone else in India surrenders to veg food during Navratri. Last but not the least, we bid farewell to the Mother Goddess on Bijaya Dashami. Amidst the moist eyes and heavy heart, we wish her to come the next year as well, “Asche bochor abar hobe”. (Waiting for the next year to come).
Durga puja is not just a festivity, but an emotion to Bengalis. Irrespective of where we are, we never fail to express this, and then drown in it completely. Every Bengali will be able to connect to the string with which we all are attached.