Table of contents for Aamar Bangla
- Summer Vacation: The rustic but romantic village life of Bengal – Part – I
- Summer Vacation: Me and my village, the rains and a long walk – II
- Summer Vacation: Maidan – the lungs of Kolkata – III
- Summer Vacation: A beautiful river and a few Necklaces – IV
- Summer Vacation: A day in Alipore Zoological Gardens – Part – V
- Summer Vacation: The trademark edifice of Kolkata – Part – VI
- Summer Vacation: College Street – A paradise for Bookworms – Part VII
- Summer Vacation: A visit to Dakshineswar Kali Temple – Part – VIII
- Summer Vacation: A city and its’ unique heritage – Last Part
How did you spend your summer vacation?
I am sure most of us fondly remember our school assignments, even after so many years. The month May, usually signal one thing in the life of an Indian. It is time for the summer vacation in schools. A summer vacation is a fun and lot of exciting things. We, plan to go all over the world during this period, when schools are closed and would like to spend some beautiful moments of our life with our loved ones. During May, we’re ready for the next few months of scorching heat and perhaps heading for some places to cool us off.
Like most of you, we also eagerly wait for the month of May to come. For us, the charm of summer vacation lay in visiting our near & dear ones living far away in Bengal. We looked forward to spending few days having the time of our lives.
We planned our trip to home four months’ in advance, precisely on 17th January and booked our train tickets.
Note: Recently, Railway has changed booking window from 4 months to 2 months.
It’s the same old story once again, making last minute courtesy calls to the neighbours to request them to look after the home when we are away. The train journey…
and we were almost going ecstatic, as soon as we spot her after one long year…the white necklace…the sight of Howrah Bridge also meant homecoming for us finally. We reached the place from where we belong…my home, our home…and our holiday has just started.
When I was a kid, we were living in Lakshmikantapur, a village in 24 Pgs (S), W.B. The place was 150 KM from our ancestors place. We had a big joint family. As a kid, the only thing we looked forward to was going off to our ancestors’ place, to be with our grandparents and cousins. The only chance we got was during the month long summer & Durga Puja vacation.
Today, we keep on hearing that kids have many options which we didn’t have as a kid. I am not too old to initiate a debate about now & then. Personally, I do feel that we did have many options back then as well. It may not be as cosmetic & sophisticated as it is now.
We used to plan in advance about things we’d do there. We’d run in the fields, climb up the trees to pluck mango, jamon, falsa, and guava, sometimes try our hands in fishing as well in the pond or do everything possible. It was so much fun.
Did you ever have a chance to taste the natural mango directly from the tree? You cannot find that much sweetness in the carbide effect mangoes. We were ready with stones in our hands. We used to pluck mangoes from the tree and count who has how many…and the greater taste resides in the mangoes that are stolen from the tree, isn’t it!
It’s long time back. Today, after so many years whenever I think about those days, I feel very happy about my childhood. Now we are grown up but we all miss those days. The time we spent together and the bond which we developed over all these years, even if we are not able to meet each other quiet often.
For my son, we feel it’s always better for him to visit his home, to meet his extended family, whenever possible. He must do the things, which we did long time back. Am I expecting something unusual from him? I don’t know how he will see this journey some years down the line – but I just hope that he will also be waiting for the month of May to come, every year.
This is going to be the first in a series of few about our summer vacation. I will try to take you through the rustic charm of villages, including some beautiful places of West Bengal and obviously there will be more on ‘the City of Hope’….yeah Kolkata, “the City of Joy.’ Hope you will love to read these.
With due permission from all of you, I would like to introduce my village briefly, which may not be relevant in such travelogues.
Dasghara is a small village, 12 km north of Tarakeshwar in the Hooghly District of West Bengal. The history of Dasghara dates back to the 18th century. The Zamidari of the Biswash family was established by Kamal Kanta Biswash. The Zamidari extended over a wide region comprising the villages of Madhabpur, Jaragram, Aantpur, Champadanga. Kamala Kanta Biswash came from Chol Gango Prodesh of Orissa and was a Vaishnav. He constructed the temple of Radha Gopinath Jiu. The marvelous terracotta works in the temple still attracts the attention of visitors. The Gopinath temple has the distinction of housing some of most preserved terracotta panels in whole of West Bengal.
The village also has two main schools, one for Girls & one for Boys, including a very good Library. Dasghara High School was established in 1858. Both the schools, Girls & Boys are very renowned in the state. This year, two students ranked 10th & 11th respectively in the State Higher Secondary Education (XIIth) from these two schools.
The Ratha Yatra is a very important festival in our village. On this auspicious day of Ratha Yatra (July10), we wish you a very happy Ratha Yatra.
Every year in mid-summer, Lord Jagannath, with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, goes on vacation, travelling on grand chariots, from his temple in Puri. This belief has given rise to one of the biggest religious festivals in our country, the Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival.
The Ratha Yatra festival falls on the late of June or early July. It is celebrated in the honour of Lord Jagannath an avatar of Vishnu. The day is also considered very auspicious, marking as it does the start of the sowing season or the monsoon crop, throughout eastern India.
The fair is very popular and people from our adjacent neighbourhood locations congregate at the fair. People scramble around to get a chance to pull the holy rope of the huge chariot. An image of Vishnu in the form of Jagannath (Lord of Universe) is placed in a wooden chariot built in the shape of a temple on wheels, which is drawn by men of all castes to the Library, near Roy Bari.
This month long festival is one of the major entertainment arena for the locals and plays an important role to the local life in surrounding villages.
This fair is an integral part to the lives of people in surrounding areas. Makeshifts stalls like one in the picture sell toys and other stuff that attract the curiosity of the children and old alike! “Paapar Bhaja” (Fried Papad) and “Hot Jilipi” are synonymous in any fairs in West Bengal. There will be numerous stalls selling these items, including fruits, Jewellery, Household items, Cooking Utensils, Sports items, clay dolls, as well as many other things in this festival arena.
People who otherwise live without any entertainment, throng to the fair, which offer them the happiness and joy they yearn for in their struggled existence. Such fairs sell inexpensive stuff but bring back priceless smiles to the villagers and cannot be measured by mundane socio-economic theories.
You can experience the hidden treasures of Bengal villages through such fairs and feel the rustic but romantic village life of Bengal. If anyone is staying in nearby area and reading this post, may plan to visit this event.
I had seen many fairs in rural Bengal. Fairs like ‘Ghosto’ in South 24 parganas during the month Baishak or ‘Besher Mela’ in Joynagar Mazilpur are just to name a few. Starting from Paila Baishakh, the first day of Bengali calendar, every day the ‘Ghosto’ fair is scheduled to take place in different surrounding villages. The date is fixed for that village and we had full 30 days entertainment. You can imagine a time, when electricity was a distant dream at all the places and there was no TV set. Life was completely different for us. We used to go there together and come back with loads of clay dolls. You will not believe the price of those dolls, which are still there at our home…some of them are almost at my age. Ghosto and Besher Mela (fairs) are a part of 24 Parganas (S). I did miss such fairs of rural Bengal, including month long Rather Mela or Jhulan Mela at our village in Dasghara. It’s much much different than going to any city fair, which are much organized but without any life. I am sure it is not only in rural bengal, but in most other parts of the country as well. If you have never attended any such fairs, it will be a treat for your eyes.
I will bring up all these in some of my posts later and just hope you will find them interesting. Till then and my next post, the following picture is for all of you who loves the vast green field of rural Bengal and want to drink the green colour and a guess of what’s is coming up next…
…to be continued