The well-known Ramakrishna Mission Hospital and Matt was situated on the route between school and home, and every Pujo season on the way to and from school I peeped out of the car window to see if the Pandal’s were being set up yet. The excitement of spotting the bamboo skeleton of the Pandal being set up in the hospital compound meant it was soon going to be Pujo Time!
Mahalaya announced the end of the somber period of Pitru-Paksh and Maa Aschen (Maa is on her way) excitement in the air.
When Saptami day dawned we dressed up to welcome Durga Maa, who scriptures say visits her Maika (her mother’s house) during this period. And so we went, in our traditional best discussing and betting on the the color of the saree Maa would be draped in this year.
The first glimpse of Maa always, but always, takes your breath away and you stare awe-struck at that serene face, those eyes that convey myriad emotions, the flowing tresses, the saree and jewels, a sight to behold. After we had soaked in the sight to our hearts content Mom used to perform a small ritual of ‘nazar nikalna’ , getting rid of the evil eye we may have cast on Maa, by waving both her hands in a semi arc towards herself and then cracking her knuckles on either sides of her temples. The louder the cracks, the more the nazar, was the belief.
Aarti time meant prayers and chants echoing around the pandal and the Pandit’s waving large inverted chandelier like lit diyas in front of Maa. Getting ‘Khichuri’ as the Bhog (Prasad) was a special treat!
Lots of little shops surrounded the main pandal, a special few with ladies selling homemade sweets and snacks. We always headed first to Mom’s favorite shop, where she stocked up on Khukumoni Alta and Sindoor, Shakha-Pola and Loha if she needed a new set of Bangles worn by married women , and a Shankh (conch shell) which was inspected to within an inch of its life before it was deemed a perfect buy to sound at home during her evening Pooja. Beautiful clay faces of Durga Maa were our picks.
After the Pooja (worship) and shopping it was Pet-pooja (eating) time and we hit the food stalls! I would head straight to the Mishti(sweet) stalls and buy my favorite Sondesh, Mishti Doi alongwith Bappa Doi, Chomchom and Lobongo Latika. And the tantrum I threw if any of my items weren’t available or sold! Ghugni, Puchkas and Jhalmuri made up our savory snacks.And always finishing it all off with the bright pink Candy Floss!
No matter how we may treat our female population, the pomp splendor and celebrations for our female Goddesses is unmatched!
Disclaimer: I am a Punjabi born and brought up in Bombay (and almost always mistaken for being a Bengali) despite which my fervour for Pujo time is on par with all the Bengali’s I know 😀 Any mistakes I may have made in the post above are my own. Do feel the need to point out required corrections.
The pic shared on the post was taken at the Koramangala Durga Puja Pandal on Sunday, 9th October, 2016.