BURDWAN DIARIES: 1

Recently my favorite pastime has been to think over my childhood and boyhood days and get a bit nostalgic. I am always grateful to the God for letting me grow up in a small town like Burdwan and thus giving me the opportunity to take every essence of life to the fullest. This is festive season in Bengal now, so it would be great to start talking over how days would pass in this time of year fifteen years ago from today.

When my school-going first started (probably I was four then), in our locality Durga Puja was organized for the first time. Our two nearby localities used to organize two separate and large ‘puja’, and staying in the middle we would frequent between these two pandals in puja days. So, it was a great relief to us (me and my friends), as we realized we did not have to scuttle to other localities anymore-finally we were having our own puja where we could spend all the time. In those times in our school half yearly examination used to be held prior to the puja every year. We were to write only two papers for two subjects, and within three days the exam burden would be gone. Now we had no headache of studying and that was when puja really used to begin for us.

It was always very exciting (and it is still now) to listen to ‘Mahishasur-Mardini’ on radio at four in the morning. Not a single year has passed in my life when I did not listen to this timeless program on this auspicious day. I clearly remember that until I was ten or eleven I never listened to the full program. What used to happen was I would listen the first and last part, and in between I would fall asleep again. The program over, I would go to the pandal and spend the entire morning there with my friends. In the sky, in the air, in the streets-everywhere we could smell of puja (it is a typical odor which no other people can smell of except a Bengali). The noon would be spent reading all the pujabarshiki (festive magazines) and afternoon and evening would be spent in the pandals playing and simultaneously awaiting Maa (Goddess Durga)’s arrival. At that time the scenario was completely different, there was no rat-race among students and so our parents did not have to worry about those hours wasted reading those festive magazines or chatting and playing with friends.

Idol Making on progress on Mahalaya