Pen By Madhura
Our locality was full of small to medium scale factories.
Viswakarma Puja was celebrated with aplomb in this region. We would know that Viswakarma Puja is coming as the sky would be covered with colourful kites, which the youths would fly in the afternoon.
On the eve of Viswakarma Puja, some households would have “Ranna Puja”. Our house help would perform the same and bring Prasad for us. The “seddho pithe” which was a must for this Puja, was the most sought-after Prasad.
This Viswakarma Puja was an indication of our greatest festival-Durga Puja. Every household would have decked up in their own possible way. Cleaning would start right after Vishwakarma Puja. In Bengal, Ma Durga is considered as the daughter who returns to her paternal home for four days, which is celebrated as Durga Puja.
Our locality was never in the run of the glitzy Durga Pujas which take place in and around the city. It has always been for the people, by the people and of the people of the locality. Right from bringing the idols from Kumartuli (the place where Durga idols are made), decking them up with necessary ornaments and weapons, putting the last touch to the unfinished pandal, arranging for the different rituals associated with the Puja till the immersion in the Ganges, it was done by the local people only. Till date, this Puja has tried to maintain it’s low-key, with the worshipping the Goddess being the main focus.
As kids, we had lots of freedom during this time. Our parents would give us a free hand, which was something we looked forward to. After having breakfast, we were allowed to go to the pandal on the pretext of helping the elders to arrange for the main Puja. We would help in cutting fruits which were to be offered to the Goddess. But that was not for long. After 15-20 minutes, we would run out of patience, sitting cross-legged on the wooden plank. So we would gather plastic chairs, and sit and start chatting among ourselves. Sometimes we may also treat ourselves with some candies which would be sold outside or may buy ourselves balloons and fly them around. The boys would have plastic toy revolvers and they would start pulling the triggers, creating lots of noise.
In the evening, we would go for pandal hopping with our parents and mostly eat outside, the only time of the year when we indulged in such luxury. We would walk quite at length across the city to catch glimpse of the important pandals, which might qualify for getting prizes. Many families would rent a car or book a taxi and move around the city.
The last day of Durga Puja is known as Vijaya Dashami. On this day, Lord Rama got victorious against the Demon King Ravana. In North India this day is usually celebrated by burning effigies of Ravana. In Bengal, we believe that Ma Durga will return back to her husband’s place on that day. She is fed with delicacies and the married women will perform a special ritual, which is known as ‘Baran’, requesting her to come next year again. This day we would generally be quite sad since we would have to get back to studies again from the next day. Hence, we would try to maximize our time that day and do whatever we could for enjoyment.
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