Puja days are here again. A time to look back on what the festival meant in days gone by and how it’s celebrated now.
After a year, Sharodiyo Durga Puja is back again. My heartiest well wishes to all. During our childhood we’d wait eagerly for the Puja festivities to begin. Buying new clothes and running about with friends to the mandap was what we enjoyed most. Now that we lead a hectic life, a lot of fun has paled in the process.
Durga Puja is now at our door and I take this opportunity to pray for the well being of all. Don’t know why, but Puja celebrations in our village were a lot more exciting. I remember the celebrations on Ashtomi and Nobomi. We practically hopped from one mandap to another with friends. Bijoya Doshomi is marked by the immersion of the Goddess in the river. We would literally dance to the beat of ‘dhak’ and ‘dhol’. Oh! what fun we had back in those days! Those days are now lost forever.
Memories of Durga Puja past flood in with the sound of ‘dhak’ — an aspect of the festival that I have loved since childhood. The celebrations were always fun-filled. We lived in Shitakundo in Chittagong. Kirtan, Baishnab and Boiragi melodies filled the ambience during Puja festivities. I was mostly attracted to the booming sounds of the ‘dhak’ and would spent hours with the performers. I’d be scolded by the elders, but that didn’t deter me. Now with time, responsibilities have doubled and I have to think about others as well. I still enjoy shopping for the festival and try to go back to my village to enjoy the real delights of Puja.
During Durga puja, rehearsals for the main event would start a month early. As students of Bharateshwari Homes, we were allowed to wear gorgeous Benarasi saris (from their collection) that had real gold and silver thread-work. During the Puja, we’d perform at cultural shows. Food preparation in big cauldrons would continue for 10 days at a stretch. Offerings to the deities were a part of the festivity. The attire of Debi (Goddess) would come from Kolkata. It was a time of fun and frolic.
I’ll be in Dhaka. And I’ll go to a temple at least once. Durga Puja was different for me last year when my mother was with us. We used to start shopping well ahead of Puja. Early in the morning I used to receive her blessings. I did the same when my father was alive. This Puja I will miss my mother a lot. May the Almighty grant them both eternal peace.
Like every year, I will celebrate Puja in Chittagong. Traditionally we have been celebrating the festival there for around a century, since the days of my grandfather, Zamindar Prashanna Shaha and his father Zamindar Lakkhi Shaha. It is on special occasions like this that we get to meet several of our relatives and friends who come over.
I’ll stay at my father’s in Ashulia during Puja. Puja is a time for fun and festivity. But to be honest, I don’t find the fun and merriment of my childhood days, and I miss those days. The whole place crammed with guests and new clothes everywhere. However, my greetings to everyone on Durga Puja.
Bidya Sinha Mim
I’ll be in my hometown Comilla. I’ve become busier than ever with shooting these days. So this will give me an opportunity to meet my family and friends. I’ll wear the traditional Bengali outfit. I have bought new clothes. How I wish I could go back in time to my childhood days! Everyone gets to meet everyone on the day when the Thakur (Goddess) is submerged in the river. I pray that Durga Puja will bring happiness in everyone’s life.
-With The Daily Star input