Tag Archives: Durga Puja

Calcutta Feels.

I was brought up in Calcutta. I lived for more than two decades in that city and I came to love it for its views, its vices, its pace, its charm, its tea stalls and the addas, its humidity and its rabindra sangeet. There were days I couldn’t stand the lethargy in the air. Then there were days I would choose that as the city I wanted to spend my life in forever.

But life happened and I moved to Bangalore. I still don’t belong to Bangalore though. Over time, I probably stopped thinking about belonging somewhere. It was just the work, the book, the blog, the friends, the outings. But what about the feeling that a city is yours, that you can see it even with your eyes closed, hear it even when you’re miles away from it? Well, I felt that again, after long!

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Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the city of joy calls for Calcuttans, Bengalis and non Bengalis to come together in all parts of the world. After office, we travelled across almost half the city to one of the famous puja pandals set up here. Bangalore traffic is omnipresent and it is always a sore sight. But traffic around the pandal was different. It was made up of people decked in glittering jewellery and shiny garb set aside specially for the Puja is Calcutta feels! The red big bindis come out of the vanity boxes, the backless cholis are back, the umbrellas open up even when it is just barely drizzling, the starched kurtas see the night after long and the Jadavpur University jholas which can carry anything from bananas, water bottles, wallets and even a pair of spare shoes, maybe! I was staring at a mini Calcutta in Bangalore. My Calcutta.

Calcutta has makeshift pandals which boast of our creativity, culture, imagination and these days the latest social causes and trends. This one was none of that, with the idol being placed inside the permanent structure of a convention centre and the grounds turned into an exhibition venue with stalls of books, food and clothes lined up. I even caught a stall of German schools you can send your kids to. So Bangalore-ish!

But this was also all of that. The grounds were filled with advertisement banners – Calcutta brands like our beloved Presidency University, P.C. Chandra Jewelers, Aaj Kal and none other than Sourav Ganguly staring out of the posters at you, wishing you a happy Puja! The Daadus were carrying their grandchildren in their arms, showing them the fanfare of the Durga, the siblings twinning, the mothers dressed as festively as their daughters, live band performances to Kishore Da tunes and the Durga herself.

In that moment when I laid my eyes on the idol of the Durga, I could not ask for anything more. My heart was so full of love and happiness, it rushed out rolling down as tears from my eyes. I guess that’s what they call the power of the Divine. It brings out what you didn’t know you had in you, the best of you, the real you.

I am happy here but I also miss my city. And I know I still belong there. No matter where I live, even if I start loving another city, I will always belong to Calcutta. Calcutta feels abound!

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : Thank you A. For dragging me along. You saw in me what I couldn’t.

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The unseen face.

PST

 

They could not afford the granduer of the Durga Puja pandals which were stretched across the length and breadth of the city. Their idol had none of the splendor associated with the city’s most festive days. They were five women praying to the strongest woman deity they’d ever known, celebrating her stories, wondering if she still existed somewhere among one of them.

Not many of them prayed anymore. Over the years, the numbers at the Puja had dwindled. She didn’t blame them. After all, how long can you fight against your own destiny and hope that things will change, tides will turn and the unthinkable will happen? But she hadn’t been able to forsake praying. That is the one thing that she had wholeheartedly learnt from her mother – to pray.

They weren’t a part of the privileged – if she could put it lightly. Goddesses and prayers couldn’t be an element of their daily living. Far from it, in fact. They lived in areas, the others called red light areas. She never understood where the name came from. She always wondered if the red light signified danger – and if yes, then were they a danger to society or was the society a danger to them?

She seemed to have lost herself in the sounds of the conch shell and the bells. The fragrance of the incense sticks devoured her into a trance.  Someone banged on the door. Snapping out of her trance, she opened the door. “How much longer will you all be at it? It’s almost sun down. You need to get to work,” the lady at the door, said strictly. The lady was not a bad person, but she wasn’t necessarily good either. She was, unfortunately, just right.

“We’ll be downstairs soon,” she said ruefully.

Closing the small 10 by 10 feet spare room which housed a small idol of the Goddess of the season, the five ladies trooped to their respective rooms downstairs. Taking off her red and white bangles, she kept them carefully in a velvet clothed box. Her mangalsutra* lay beside it. She’d never worn it after her wedding day. Tears welling up in her eyes, she kept the box tucked far inside her wardrobe. She removed her red bindi and stuck it on the top of the box. They were to be used again after a long time. Slowly she took off her red and white sari, an attire which held no significance in the life she was living, an attire that was to be kept hidden away from her ‘customers’, an attire that shouldn’t remind them in any manner of the life that was awaiting them outside the red light area.

She was faceless to them. Nameless to them. They wanted it that way. And she wanted to keep it that way too. She didn’t want to think of what her life meant – either to her or to them. She wanted to keep her dreams locked away in that velvet clothed box.

She was a devotee of  the Durga. But she couldn’t harness the Goddess’ strength in herself. They were devotees of the Durga too. And they didn’t want her to harness Her strength.

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Prashant from Just Spoken Thoughts. Thank you for coming up with the beautiful sketch in almost no time! Hoping that this post will allure you into further creative collaborations! ;)

*The black and golden beaded necklace that signifies marital connection and is a part of the married Hindu woman’s attire.

Of bad singers and good ad campaigns.

The laws of Calcutta seem beyond my grasp at times. It’s almost midnight and there’s a live musical performance going on right behind my place for no reason whatsoever! At least, there’s no festival I am aware of. Christmas doesn’t call for such celebration and Durga Puja is a good ten months away!

Singers have been shouting into the microphones, speakers have been blaring, peace is being held hostage for the past five hours. At least. Why am I so irritated? Because good songs and better singers are welcome at such shows. But when the singers sound like they have bullfrogs bellowing inside of them and the noise they’re creating is on the higher side of the allowed decibel level, sleep is tossed out of the window (panes of which are vibrating!) and the post which is published is probably the tenth draft of the fourth idea which struck me while I was trying to clamp my ears with cotton, mufflers and pillows.

Distracting myself to write this post and I end up writing about what I am supposed to distract myself from! Silly me.

So you think diamonds are a girl’s best friend? And that if your fiance, husband or even boyfriend doesn’t gift you diamonds, his love for you isn’t forever? (Because diamonds last forever – forgive the analogy. All that noise is slowing me down.)

Well, congratulations! You have been duped by a very long continuing and massively successful advertising campaign started around the mid 1900’s to ensure the sudden bounty of diamonds being mined do not lose out on their previously high prices! The advertising campaign emphasized on the non-existent necessity of diamonds to be an intricate part of the holy matrimony! And thus began the race to buy diamonds, the end line of which is far from visible even today.

This reminds me of another advertising campaign which saved an entire brand from getting ruined. The Nestle India Maggi campaign! An offshoot video that I found is worth the time and smile. Specially for those who love both Maggi and Bollywood.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : In case reading this post will result in future savings in your bank account, don’t forget to send me a thank you note! 😉 You’d make my day.