“YA DEVI SARVA BHUTESU MAATRU RUPENA SANSTHITHA
NAMASTASAI NAMASTASAI NAMASTASAI NAMO NAMAH “
Welcome to ‘Sarbojanin’ Durga Puja.
In earlier days (17th or 18th Centrury), Durga Puja was celebrated only in affluent and zaminder families in West Bengal and participation of common people was not there at all. Then ‘Barowari’ Durga Puja or ‘Sarbojanin’ Durga Puja came into existence. The word Sarbojanin comprises of two words. In Bengali, ‘Sarbo’ means ‘for all’ and ‘Jan’ means ‘people’. So the word ‘Sarbojanin’ means for all people. There is no restrictions in respect of colour, creed, caste or class and became the most popular festivals over the years.
The six-day long annual festival started on October 19, with Panchami. It is a sheer joy for all of us since then. The sound of dhak fill the atmosphere, along with chants of the mantras during Pushpanjali & Sandhya Arati. Mothers keep fast for their children on Shasthi and there is ‘Anandamela’ (food stalls) in the evening, where ladies prepare food at home and bring it to the stall. Members or guests buy the same in the evening…these can be anything, starting from Pakora to Singara (Samosa), spring rolls to egg rolls even Biryani or sweets.
It’s nice feeling once again to be at home. Last two years we couldn’t go home, however, we celebrated Durga Puja at our place in Gurgaon as a Prabasi Bengali (Bengalis who have been away from their motherland). It’s a different experience altogether. There are many who were dying to go home at one point of time, now became involved in Prabasi puja with the same intensity and devotion.
You have heard about NRI, but ‘Prabasi Bengali’ might be a new word for many of you…it’s a strange word & feeling to me and may be to most of us, the so called ‘Prabasi Bengali’. All of a sudden, you add ‘Prabasi’ in front of me once we stepped out for a living and then there is a feeling of isolation from your own motherland, whom you love the most even today. As new generation took control of our den which we used to think ours’ only at one point of time, we started feeling isolated at our own place. We don’t want to be just a mere spectator only when there is no involvement and henceforth, get more involved in ‘Prabasi Pujo’. I just hope that this situation will never come to me, but I did enjoy Durga puja here as well.
There will be drawing, recitation competition for children, cultural programme at night. Khichuri bhog served with Labra (a tasty mixed vegetables curry) for all six days who visit the pandal, irrespective of their caste or community. This brings all the people of our residential area in one spot and is a unique get together.
We also visited Chattarpur Durga Temple, along with other Pujo Pandals in Delhi & NCR. There are close to 300+ Durga Pujo in Delhi & NCR and in last few years, the number has also increased in Gurgaon.
This is the only time in the year or throughout our life, children got the absolute freedom from the elders, in its’ true sense of words. No restriction during these few days, even if you don’t touch or come close to your books during these few days it’s OK. At the same time, you can read ‘Anandamela’, ‘Kishore Bharati’ or ‘Sandesh’ or ‘Suktara’ (Pujo Magazines, especially designed for children). Nobody will say anything if you go out with your friends and come back a little late or stay a little longer in the pujo pandal. No Puja is complete with the mandatory Adda session till late night at the Para Puja. You can have a little bit of idea about what I am mentioning here. When my son was just three years’ old (2010), we brought him back at 10 p.m. However, he didn’t want to come from the pandal…because he was playing with his friends throughout the day and wanted to continue even 10 at night…and started crying ‘amake keno niye ele, darja-ta khule dao…why did you brought me back, please open the door. Let me go’…finally we had to give in…perhaps, we also wanted the same and returned home after spending another two hours. He was too little to understand the concept of ‘Adda’, but he was definitely enjoying; that kind freedom he had never seen before.
We are famous for our addas. So, what is ‘Adda”? Adda is nothing but a form of intellectual exchange among members or informal chats. During Puja adda (or any adda session!) the topics can be practically anything and everything. Sky is the limit. We have the license to kill our time in whatever way we wish to. Children make plans for each of the Puja days to hang out with friends and family. Some everlasting relationships grow during this time.
Maha Ashtami is a very important day during Puja. We shall never miss Ashtami Puja’s Pushpanjali. Kumari Puja is held on Ashtami, sometimes Nabami. Sandhya Arati and Sandhi Puja are a must watch on Ashtami. Many of us keep fast and break after Sandhi Puja.
We worshipped Ma Durga in various forms during her stay here. One of those forms is the “Kumari”, the Virgin form. This mould is the most powerful form of Mahashakti. Depending on the age of the girls they are worshipped in the various forms of the Goddess, symbolising the Kumari form of Devi is worshipped in front of the idol of Goddess Durga, particularly to evolve the purity and divinity of the women of the society.
Sandhi Puja is an integral and important part of Durga Puja, performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day, which lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Nabami. Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form during this period or ‘Sandhikhan’. Devi Durga killed, Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at “Sandhikhan” and thus acquired the name of “Chamunda”.
Sandhi Puja requires 108 lotus flowers, 108 earthen lamps along with other offerings like clothes, jewelry and it is a delight for everyone to see.
So, by now, you must have already visited many pujo pandals and many more to go, so am I…meeting everyone – ‘kire kobe eli…bhalo achis to, ekhane aai’…(When did you come? Hope you are well, come here) feel so good to hear. You must also be hungry now…so it’s also time to give our tastebuds some freedom which it deserves…and I hope you won’t mind for another post of mine for this…you won’t be disappointed, a promise…see you very soon with…ok, let’s wait for that…take care of yourself