For a short update, the Pujo was good fun with me managing to land up at the Mandap all 4 days starting Saptami (Seventh day of Navratri) with the family in tow. I even managed to drape myself in nine yards of silk on 3 of those days and the pallu stayed without pins and the pleats did not give way, no mean feat if you know me. I also queued up for Anjali and offered Anjali at 8:30 PM every evening having feasted on breakfast, lunch, snack and everything else instead of the usual fasting that should have been propah, again no mean feat if you know my Ma.
The daughter initially did not show much interest in Durga or the Durga Puja and claimed she did not much like Durga Thakur because Durga Thakur did not give her anything. I tried to get philosophical and told her it is Durga Thakur who had given her Mommy & Baba, but that did not impress her as she did not think these were creatures important enough to be actually gifted to anyone. Finally when I told her the Lego Bucket, which she incidentally had since last year, was actually brought by Durga, she got very excited and was also visibly pleased. The fact that she got a chocolate bar as Prashad from Durga Thakur clinched the deal and she became a major devotee and even offered Anjali with two flowers.
Dashami (tenth day of Navratri) was good too with Sindoor khela (married women applying Sindoor/vermillion to the Goddess and also each other) and there was some dancing at the Mandap , narkel naru (coconut laddu) and then nimki, followed by Biryani and kabab at night for dinner. I did not feel the immense sadness, guess I am getting used to real life deals.
But while discussing Pujo, memories, food etc I forgot to tell you the most important thing, the one thing I liked most about Durga Pujo since I was a little girl of six.
Anandamela and AnandaBazaar Patrika this year
It is the Pujo Shankhya or the Annual Puja Numbers. Now Bengal being the literary state that it is, it has a very rich history of art & literature. So during Durga Pujo, the publishing houses like Ananada Publishers, Deb Sahitya Kutir etc. bring out special editions of the monthly magazines published by them. These special editions are thick volumes with literary gems from all renowned Bengali authors. Packed with writings by the best authors, these Puja Numbers are something I and every Bengali child in their right mind would look forward to.
When I was a kid, my Ma in her effort to teach me Bangla would get me monthly subscriptions of the very popular Bengali children’s magazine Anandamela. During Durga Pujo this AnandaMela would come out in its special edition with colorful, glossy jacket and stories & articles in different flavors from all famous, almost famous, trying to get famous authors. It was the biggest treat a child could ever have.
Those days these were published and available in the market around Mahalaya and in our small town we would book our copy with the local paper wallah days in advance, in fact right after summer. So while Mahalaya meant getting up at 4 AM to listen to Birendra Krishna Bhadra, it also meant pestering the Paper wallah every day to see if the coveted book had arrived. I cannot quiet explain the excitement, the waiting, the longing for the book to arrive. Days were spent thinking what “Gogol”* might do and where “Santu”** might land up with “kakababu”**. The book would finally arrive along with My Ma’s copy of Desh or Anandabazaar patrika and many blissful hours would be spent in its magical pages.
Even now Durga Pujo for me is incomplete without Pujo Shankhya and I either buy them here or get my Ma to send them. With the Sharadiya being published way in advance these days, my ma easily finds someone to send me the copies and their arrival heralds the onset of Durga Pujo.
Along with shiuli and kashful, the Sharadiya Pujo Shankhya means Durga Pujo to me.
I do not think I will get around teaching my daughter to read Bengali or maybe I would, but if I didn't, I know she will miss out on the wait for these special editions which with their glossy jackets and mesmerizing tales carried the fragrance of Durga Pujo.
Do you have any Pujo Shankhya favorites or if you are from another Indian state do you have a similar concept of Special editions which are extremely popular ?
*Gogol -- fictional character by Samaresh Babu, another legendary author ** Santu & kakababu -- fictional characters by Sunil Gangopadhyay, a very famous Bengali author
Some other lovely Durga Pujo posts from fellow Bloggers
Predominantly a Bong, who loves being a Mom and loves to cook among other things for the li'l one and the big ones.She loves to write too and you will find her food spiced up with stories. Mainly a collection of Bengali Recipes with other kinds thrown in, in good measure. A Snapshot of Bengali Cuisine