Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Puja Masti!

It is that time of the year for which a Bengali always longs for. It is that time of the year for which a bong decks up his/her wardrobe for. Needless to say, I too had done the same.
Because of the postponement of the 7th mid-sems (or rather, we bunked it), I got the chance to catch up on some lost time for my puja shopping. One trip to the REEBOK store, one to the Pantaloons outlet at 22 Camac and I was done. I had enough clothing to last all the four (or rather, five) days of durga pujas plus the two days I had to dress up in ethnic clothes to give Anjali.
Our Richardson Hall's mess closed down on 27th september which was the day of panchami. So I neatly packed up my bag and took the bus to my grandmom's place at Paikpara, where I was to stay during the pujas. The plans started and my friends, who were mainly South Calcuttans (oops sorry, Kolkatans) came up with a whole night plan for Saptami (27th September). So since I had no plan for Panchami, I decided to spend the day lasily on the bed to catch up on some lost sleep. But before that, I had to give my examination at IMS. This one was called Mid-course assessment test (MCT 3) . Needless to say, it was pathetic. But who cares, I could already see the puja fun unfloding in front of my eyes.
The 28th of september which turned out to be Sashthi turned out to be dull. It rained all morning to afternoon leaving the roads waterlogged and making sure that I did not bring out my brand new Reeboks for an early puja opening show. In the evening, I went out with my mami and cousins for an early puja pandal hopping. First, we visited Deshbandhu Park & Jubabrinda. We then went to my mami's place to collect some much needed guest cards. After some refreshments there, we went on to Karbagan, Jubabrinda, Telengabagan and Gouribari. The pandals at the last two were especially well designed and I predicted that they would definitely win some awards(which came true 2 days later when the awards were announced). Since it was already 10pm, we came back home.
In the morning of 29th september, saptami, I could feel the pujas coming. Although it was just the first day of the festivities but my digital camera was already full of photographs of last evening's pujas. I had been invited to my youngest grandmom's place for lunch and which I duly obliged. After that at about 6pm I set out to meet my friends at Rabindra Sarobar Metro station to start off our night out.
I reached outside the metro at 7:30pm. Rik, Rajashik, Sabya, Arijit and Arkajeet joined me there. We then got up a bus to reach Jodhpur Park. There Arka, Shaon, Ayan, Zango and Sandy were waiting for us. Thus our group of 11 set out for our extravaganza.
First up, Jodhpur Park. Since it was 8 pm and saptami we got the maximum crowd there. Half and hour of pushing and sweating in the queue, we managed to reach the entrance of the pandal. But it was worth it. Not only was the durga pratima good, but the entire surroundings were beautiful too. I somehow managed to click 3 photographs of the entire surroundings.
Next up was Salim Pally. The queue was much much smaller and so we easily manouvered our way through the public there. The pandal and durga pratima were much smaller in size here. Subsequently we went on to see the pandals of Babubagan, Ekdalia Evergeen Club and Singhi Park.
Now it was 11pm and time for dinner. We headed off to the highly acclaimed restaurant of HATARI. This was on Rashbehari Avenue and by the size of the crowd that was standing outside, one could easily guess that there was a big rush too. We had to withstand a big confrontation with a lady (whom we guessed to be part of one of the following professions:
a) Teacher b) Politician c) Divorce lawyer d) Divorcee) before entering. It took us 60 mins to get inside the restaurant and an equally tiring 15 mins to decide upon our order. Finally, (and with some expert advice of Zango, who was a regular there and knew what was good and what was not) we ordered for some fried rice and schezuan chicken. Another 15 min wait to make it a full 90 mins of waiting, and our prasad, naa, food arrived.
The next hours went about visiting the pujas of Mudiali, 66 Palli, Md. Ali Park, College Square, Santosh Mitra Square etc. The themes for the pandals were indeed diverse. It ranged from Mudiali which had a Rajbari as its theme to Santosh Mitra Square which had the events of terrorist attacks as its theme. We covered the area of Central Kolkata at about the best time of the day (3am-5am). Minimum crowd, cool temperatures. It was only at about 5am that we were reminded of our tired limbs and minds. So the group broke up to go back home for a much needed sleep. When I got to Paikpara at 6am, I straight went to bed.
The next morning, or I should say the same morning because I had got home only 4 hours ago was Ashtami. And that meant the day of anjali to Goddess Durga. My grandmom broke into my sweet sleep and gave me a deadline of 11 am by which to get ready. I somehow managed to dress up. So I made the trip to the nearby pandal at 11 to offer my anjali. I was in the day's last batch.
It was Pamela called up at about 1 pm to inform me of the time and place to meet up. We decided to get to Rashbehari more where Souvik and Aritra would be joining us. At about 4 pm we got to the designated spot. We then had a nice tour down the area for about 3 hrs before we split up at Gariahat. I wanted to get back to bed coz I hadnt had that much of rest last night. So for me, my ashtami was over.
Navami morning was greeted by my dad who had come down from Jamshedpur that morning at 6. So had mom. By afternoon my uncles, aunts and cousins had come up. We had a nice get-together and lunch. By evening, and after completing a nice nap in the afternoon, my relatives decided to go out for some pandal hopping. But it was not until 8:30pm that we managed to go out.
Navami being the supposed last day of the pujas, draws the maximum crowd. We really had to evade through a lot of traffic to reach our starting point which was Cassipally lane near Scottish Church College. It was beautifully laden with gold-plating roofs etc. After that we went on to visit the pandals near Hatibagan.
At about 11pm, we reached Sovabazar Beniatola which had some mountain as its theme. Next up was Ahiritola which had a pagoda as its pandal theme surrounded by rickshaws. It was here that my dad obtained a pass for Kumartuli Park which he duly obliged and we justified our possessing it. Kumartuli Park had some kind of volcano as their pandal. Finally we rounded our tour with Bagbazar. It was 3am and my mom was constantly scolding me for keeping them out for so long.
Thus my Durga Puja '06 celebrations ended. I spent my next few days at home in Jamshedpur to complete my holidays. Just hope that wherever I be next year (coz I certainly wont be in Calcutta), I get to have the same fun I had this time.


Anonymous said...

'The Chronicles of Abhishek Saha' make for a pretty interesting read n give a valuable insight into ur day to day life... u seem to be taking ur blog pretty seriously.. but its a great outlet for ur creativity.. write on..!! thanks to u, i cud also get a flavour of the Kolkata Pujo festivities that i missed.. :)

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Abhishek Saha
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
A NRB (Non Resident Bengali) or rather a 'Probashi Bangali'; born in Kolkata, brought up in Jamshedpur and now trying to make his mark at IIM Lucknow.
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