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Contributed By: Ms. Tanushree Chakraborty, Charms Solitaire
To that goddess who abides in all beings as power, Salutations & Prayers to You!”
We Bengalis are the worshippers of Shakti, better known to us as Goddess Durga. From our childhood we are taught to bow our heads in front of her in prayers. Every autumn is looked forward to by each Bengali with lots of hopes and aspirations. The ‘Pujo’ feeling is a magical sensation which is incomparable to any other worldly joys. We wait each year for the home coming of our Maa and submerge ourselves in merrymaking with such grandeur that everything else seems insignificant!
Prantic recreated this magic for us, marking their 9th year of Durga Puja Celebrations in 2017. A home away from home is what describes Prantic in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad the best! The community takes pride in Bengal’s rich cultural heritage and the next generation was passionately engaged to promote these thoughts! The ever welcoming and warm Prantic Management organized this year’s Puja on the same note! ‘Our Heritage Our Pride’ was this year’s theme and Artist Tapas from Bengal was sought after to build a huge Zamindar Bari as Maa’s Puja Mandap showcasing different shades of Bengal’s art, architecture and Bengali culture. With a gramophone at the corner and the Chau Masks adorning the walls, the pandal was a huge mansion of our beloved mother and became our home for the Devi Paksha days.
Preparations began from almost a year ahead to welcome the mother to our abode. From buying new clothes and matching accessories to gifts for friends and relatives, we did everything to keep the festive fervor alive. Rehearsals for dance, drama and singing began three to four months in advance in sync with the cultural programs which were presented to a house full of packed audience! Meeting friends during rehearsals and catching up with them on some gossip and refreshments made us yearn for the Adda during Puja Days even more.
The excitement began from Chathurti evening with the Navratri Mela, where a Food & Dance Competition was held for neighborhood societies. This encouraged the fact that everyone irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion was welcome to participate in the Puja events and add value to it.
Panchami saw all us members gearing up for the Anando Mela and fragrances of the Bengali delicacies filled the atmosphere. Feasting for most of us Bengalis began from that very day with most of the food gobbled or packed for dinner. Fun began with the Prantic’s Sera Bouthan game which was open for all Prantic Boudis. Shosti, the 6th day of Devi Paksha, saw mothers observing fast for their kids and Puhspanjali offerings to the Devi, followed by a sumptuous Bhog for followers. Food stalls were put up outside by Vendors having a range of mouthwatering dishes to gorge upon in the evening. Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s magnetic voice which entices every Bengali and binds us close to our roots and the transistor on every Mahalaya morning, was recreated by Prantic Members as they gave a marvelous Agamoni performance. Prantic kiddos gave an equally stunning presentation of a Tagore drama, Sampatti Samrpon. Amrita Dutta an eminent playback singer made us dance to hit Bengali and Hindi numbers.
The morning of Maha Saptami saw a musical chair game, followed by Kotha Kichu and JAM. The cultural fiesta gripped its fists even more tightly with children / toddlers of Prantic Members shaking their legs to “Dhaker Tale Komor Dole”, followed by a drama of Manoj Mitra, “Aain Be Line!” The main attraction of the evening was however a band show by Bhoomi mesmerizing the ordains with Bengali folk music. Maha Astami saw Maha Pushpanjali as packs of people gathered in front of Maa Durga to seek her blessings followed by Maha Bhoj in the afternoon. A drawing competition for the kids and a quiz show were the main attractions of the morning cultural show. Dhunuchi Nrityo and Raaga based melodies by Prantic Members marked the onset of the cultural program for the evening. Jolly Mukherjee presented his bouquet of famous Bollywood numbers to make us sway to his tunes.
Maha Nabami in the morning saw a recitation competition and a game show on songs called Gan Point for Prantic members. A rock band show by PrancStars followed by Rabindro Fusion Dance by Prantic Ladies and Kids, recitation with dance by reputed Sutapa Bandopadhay and Bollywood and Tollywood numbers by Soumen Choudhary marked an eventful Nabami Night. By the time people called it a day, it was already 3 AM in the morning. It was with heavy hearts that we woke up on Dashami. Maa’s biday bela was here and ladies collected in front of Maa with their boron dalas. As soon as the Sindoor was offered to Maa, ladies smeared vermillion on each other’s faces celebrating the essence of victory.
Post the farewell, all members accumulated for the Bijaya Sammelani in the evening, wishing each other a Subho Bijaya and dining together with Misti Mukh marking an end to the year long wait and the festivities. “Asche Bochor Abar Hobe” echoed across the pandal reminding us of all the entertainment, enjoyment and pleasure we had in these past days.
The divine mother’s annual visit to her father’s home in the Himalayas calls for a majestic celebration each year and Prantic is committed to making it even more splendid. Bolo Durga Mai ki Jai!
Contributed By: Ms. Atasi Patra , HRC
Bengal is a land of richly endowed with literature, culture and deep heritage. Its land takes on golden hue when the rice crop is ready for harvesting, earning it the sobriquet of “Sonar Bangla”. The mangrove forests of Bengal plays host to some of the most magnificent specimens of tiger. But to me, and many more food fetish bong, ”Khhado Rasik Bangali”, her most cherished treasure is her elaborate cuisines.
This article is a heart-rending write-up for me, tugging at all the nostalgic nerves that I have in my soul. It has taken me long to congregate my thoughts – to explain about Bongs and their crazy appetite.
The rest of India celebrates Navaratri at the same time as Bengalis celebrate Durga Pooja. Both the festivals are about worshiping the Goddess in her myriad forms. But as far as gastronomy is concerned Bong appetite and appetite of the rest of the country are poles apart during these period. The people of rest of India either fast or become fruit-o-holic (Bengalis ‘say Falahar) during this time. But for us Bongs, we celebrate food-o-holic extravaganza.
Day starts with special breakfast like fulko luchi and chholardal (poori with chana dal) or radhaballabi (poori stuffed with lentil paste and dash of ginger and asofotida) and aaloor dam. Ends with numerous junk food from street vendors or ones favourite restaurant. Every individual would be craving for fish fry, various forms of cutlet or rolls to multicourse lunch and dinner.
Bongs have created a Mutton recipe which is, as per them, vegetarian in nature (“Niramish Mangsho”, a mutton dish without garlic and onion). I am 100% sure whoever is reading my post, other than a Bengali, must be either laughing or thinking me to be psychopath. How can meat be a veg thing and poor garlic and onion be categorised as non-veg……….friends these are the “Khhado Rasik Bangali”.
This festival I strongly believe is of sentiment and home coming, people staying away from home find time to visit their abode even from abroad, happiness prevails. Annapurna is the form of Parvati who blesses the household with nutriment is worshiped. Durga with her four children comes to her paternal house at this time of the year….that is daughter is coming to meet her mom and dad so it’s a feast for us. Happy people are hungry people. Bongs are mostly Well Read, Happy and Hungry people. So Durga Pooja is synonymous to pate Pooja for bongs. Making Headlines!!!
Contributed By: Ms. Anupama Sarkar, Amrapali Royal
It’s been a while since we at Prantic celebrated the Sharodiye Utsob – 2017 with full pomp and show and today when I sit back and reflect on the days that passed by, I feel nostalgic, ecstatic, mesmerized and overwhelmed, all at the same time because when I look back at the series of events that we’d presented during the course of the five days (from Chaturthi – Dashami) I find myself completely dumbstruck at the magnanimity of it all.
The exquisiteness of the Pandal and the serenity of the daily Pujo followed by a series of vivacious cultural programs each day, not only brought in the festivity and fun, but it also showcased how effectively we could manage to put forth a show that had left all those who came and saw completely awe struck, many were heard saying that it was completely ‘Magical’.
Well well, so was it magic really? To a beholder’s eye it may seem like it, but we all know the kind of efforts that go in to create an event that is as ‘Majestic’ as the Durga Puja at Prantic.
It all starts with the members gearing up for the groundwork as early as 3 months prior to the event, there are numerous things that one needs to take care of, starting from finalizing the venue to looping in expert pandal makers from Kolkata, from finalizing the theme of the Pujo to finding the right sponsors, from funds collections to finalizing the idol at the Kumartuli, from finalizing the various in – house programs to bringing on board the external artists, from the gruelling rehearsals day in and out to finalizing the costumes and stage decorations, from daily pujo preparations to finalizing the bhog menu the tasks seem to be never-ending and exhausting.
All of this happens in the background and what meets the eye is the final product of the endless toil and labour that is put in without any conspicuous benefit in sight, however inconspicuously we all know that in the end what we achieve is an immense sense of pleasure, pride and happiness that binds us more closely with each passing day, when we sit back and enjoy during pujo, all the efforts seem to be totally worth it and on the last day when we bid a teary eyed farewell to MAA, we all just pray and wish for the coming year to quickly pass by because ‘ aashchce bochor aabar hobe‘.
A little exhausted and tired, returned home late in nabami night without thinking much of the next day arrangement. Next morning reached pandal around 11.30 AM.
On reaching the puja bedi, I was absolutely stunned to see the magnificent arrangement. The stand and tables that were used to put up the big LED screens outside our puja pandal has been placed near Durga idol so that women devotees can touch Maa Durga’s face and carry out the “Thakur boron” rituals standing on a stage. The iron stair case that was placed in the green room at cultural arena has also been brought to facilitate climbing to the stage. Moreover, bamboo railings were added alongwith the stairs to make it safe and trouble free climbing.
Curious to find out and acknowledge the engineering skills and its superb execution of the person who has made such wonderful arrangements, I hear a soft voice from behind “Sanjiban, Ki dekcho? Arrangement ta bhalo hoyni ?”. Before I could turn and reply, the voice continued “Sobai Maa ke ekbar sesh barer jonyo chuthe chay. Abar ek bochor por amra Maa ke sporsho korte parbo. Tai sokal bela eshe eei ekta ‘chotto kaj’ Korlam”.
I looked at her but fumbled to find words to acknowledge her such big hearted effort. Her love and dedication towards Prantic made me speechless. Looking at her caring eyes I could only whisper in her ears “Love you SUTAPA BOUDI, Prantic Loves You !!!”.
It was Saturday, Tritiya, intermittent rain spoiling the festive spirit of Puja. Sun and cloud busy in playing hide and seek without paying any attention to the devotees. Everyone in Prantic tensed as our effort to bring Ma Durga to puja pandal the previous day failed because of heavy downpour. Discussion and deliberation with the team did not yield any result as no one could judge the mood of VarunDev.
Around 11 AM, I received a call from Tapanda. In a very straightforward voice he asks me “Sanjiban, tumi ki chao ? Maa ke kokhon anbo ?”. With murmuring voice I replied “Tapanda, kichui je bujhte parchi na….”. He stopped me and said with a firm voice “Ma ke niye aaschi. Tumi bristir jonyo chinta koro na. Sob byabostha hoye jabe. Tumi sobaike janiye dao”. I kept wandering about the idol as the rain can play havoc at any moment. Around 9 PM, I reached pandal eagerly waiting to welcome Maa Durga. An unknown anxiety (Ombrophobia !!!) has already gripped me.
As the truck carrying the idol entered the pandal, to my disbelief, I found all idols entirely covered with rainproof materials. They are totally wrapped with rainproof polythene from head to toe. It looked that Maa Durga was wearing an additional set of clothes over her gorgeous dress. Not a single drop of rain could have touched her even incase of heavy downpour. After placing all the idols, Tapanda came to me. Put an arm in my shoulder and said “Ki, Maa ke thik thak niye ashlam toh?. Bristi amader kichu korte parto na. Amader sobar upore je Mayer ashirbad aache”. I could only see his glittering eyes behind the high powered specs. Perhaps, it was tears of Joy, tears of pride, tears of Love for all of us.
Thank you Tapanda (Basu). Thank you Saurabh Das Poddar and team!!!