Happy Pujo!

And on this Durga pujo I realise that Mohammad was always meant to go to the mountain. Always, even if it meant on youtube.com. Almost three years after an emotionally distraught denouncement of Durga, this Mohammad came crawling back... or trawling back. It was a friend's status update on Facebook, "That time of the year, waiting for the sound of the dhak," that got me by the gut and twisted so hard, I had to hear the dhak for myself.

I've never had the padha (colony/street) experience when growing up. Never been part of a 'cultural committee' that puts together the Durga pujo, of kids who participate in the evenings' entertainment, of young girls who help their mothers prepare stuff. I've always been the 'only visiting' variety. I've pandal-hopped with my parents, bowed and prayed before various idols and gone home. I've also never been in Calcutta/Kolkata for a pujo.

The most spectacular pujo and Ma-er mukh* I remember is from a pandal in west Delhi's Nivedita Colony. I was perhaps 12 years old and she was beautiful. We also had the most amazing kosha mangsho. What had captivated me though was the dhunuchi dancers and the trance inducing beats of the dhak they danced to. The girls were older, perhaps 18, amazingly graceful in their wide-padh sarees and they danced with so much rhythm, so much beauty... I wanted to join them. We didn't watch to see the whole thing because... for various reasons.

Ever since -- at different ages -- I've had a favourite dream sequence of doing a kickass dhunuchi dance, in a lost temple by myself with the most-beautiful Durga idol, huge torches on the walls and the biggest, loudest dhaks ever. I am in a white-sari-with-lal-border, a huge bindi, lots of kajal, hair open, sheathed in perspiration and I don't have a care in the world or awareness of anyone or anything else. And no one can stop me, laugh at me, ask me to go back home and I have no inhibitions about how I look or how my body moves. I'm aware only of the dhak that leads me. And I dance and jump and twirl and leap and collapse in a heap. I'm forgiven. Very filmi but I am very filmi and I love it and I love the dream and each time I hear the dhak, I know I'm going to dream again. (grin)
(Click for details about pujo in Melbourne --->)
The Nivedita Colony pujo is the last 'proper' pujo I remember. The next was in Kalimpong, me 14 in 'love' with a Bengali boy of the same age. And we all met at the pandal, he met my parents too and I hoped in my heart that he would be the man I marry. Ha ha, so silly, so innocent. Of course soon after I found out he was chasing a girl two years older, very beautiful, very fair etc. I don't recollect being heartbroken, I was definitely furious.

The subsequent Durga pujos are fuzzy, the ones in Amritsar involved going to the Army-arranged pujo, nothing spectacular, but the bhog as usual was delicious. Then I was in Delhi, the first year without my parents, in 'love' again, 21-years-old, standing before Ma's idol in Chittaranjan Park with much-older boyfriend, me a two-year-old journalist, dreaming of making a difference and happy I had a man and a career. The boyfriend had his wallet pickpocketed. And of course the relationship ended with much learning and serious heartbreak.

Repeat that story -- without the pickpocketing -- over five more years till 2006. The earth moved, I had many experiences I'd never intended having and my personal resume read of things that had earlier been on the list of bad things that could happen to me. Strangely -- and almost scripted -- the culmination was around Pujo time. So I told myself (and Durga), I wouldn't see her face again. Ever. I didn't go for pushpanjali. Didn't return phonecalls or 'happy pujo' wishes and avoided Durga. I tried sneaking a peek at her in newspapers yet eerily enough and despite the usual coverage in the media, I couldn't see her face that year. Not even a picture.

2007, due to stranger circumstances I was back at the Chit Park pandal. And I ran away. And life changed drastically and put me in Melbourne before the next year's pujo. I cried a lot last year. Didn't do anything on pujo, sat at home, blogged (of course) and cursed my stupidity at various levels. It was same with every other Indian festival in 2008. But I did promise not to repeat it in 2009. I might have left India but I don't want to leave India behind me.

I am not ashamed of my country. I am not confused about who I am and I know what I want. If those experiences will not just 'happen' to me, I shall seek them out. So this year, I should be at Oakleigh Street on October 4th. And maybe, I'll have a little dance with the dhak.

Happy Pujo all of you, particularly the ones outside India. Warm hugs and good wishes. And see this video, it is so, so beautiful. Many thanks to the creators.
*Ma-er mukh: Mother's face, reference to the face of Durga
PS: For the over-enlightened, non-Indians who'd wonder why Indians pray to gods with many arms, it's the same reason why say, Catholics pray to someone who turned water into wine.


Sree said...

That flower and sword, has always been the guiding path.Really does help me eliminate hatred and still use the sword when needed.

Happy Pujo to you.

Lika said...

Happy Pujo to you! I am missing out also..it is never the same outside US.

Deepti said...

Durga Pujor Shubhechha!!

Miss M said...

Happy pujo babe!

Missing pujo terribly here; in cold aussie winter. Missing the festive atmoshphere AND ma-er mookh.
(Both mas :))

*big hug*
Enjoy your shasthi. :)

Kartikey said...

Happy Pujo!
Padh ke mazaa aa gaya. Very well-written.

Anonymous said...

...and sweet sondesh was your video,with feathery nostalgia.

heart swayin to the rythms of d dhak.

Happy Pujo jhoomur.

Jhoomur aka JB said...

@ Sree: Yes, I shall remember that too. And...try lying straight, arms by your sides, palsm open, eyes closed and focussed on the white light inside. It helps sleep.

@ Deepti: Thankyou, tomakeo.

@ Lika: Watch the video and imagine yourself there. To you too.

@ miss M: right back at you babe! I spoke to one Ma today, she's become very savvy...SMSes me and all. And emailed pa, which is also great. :) In fact mailed Pa the dhak video, and that became his first youtube experience. Heh heh. Convey pronams to your Ma and loads of love.

@ Kartikey: shukriya ji and happy pujo bhi. Aapka comment padhke bhi maza aaya. :)

@ anonymous: Sandesh!!! My, haven't had one in aaaaaaages. eat one for me, ok? Happy Pujo Anonymous.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Awww babe! I've had all the experiences that pujo could give me, as a bideshi bangaali, a probaashi bangaali and now as a kolkataar bangaali (who still considers herself probaashi).

I'll do a little twirl on your behalf (the husband does a real sexy one!) during dhunuchi.

And one year, you have to come to Kolkata to spend with me and experience pujo here. You have no idea what you're missing :)

Happy pujo darling. And Maa'r opor raag korte nei (although many are the times even I can't help it)...anik abhimaan holo, am glad you're going to go and say 'hello'.

Jhoomur aka JB said...

@ Mamma Mia: Na re, raag nei, bhool hoye chhilo. Abhimaan chhilo, sheekhe chi ebaar. :) And yes, would love to come and spend pujo with you and the kids in Cal... tathaastu to that. :) Blessings to the kids, love to you and hubby and pronams to the elders...

Sree said...

Eventhough reply to comments are aimed at that one person, we all enjoy reading it too and must say this time enjoyed it the best."Na re, raag nei, bhool hoye chhilo. Abhimaan chhilo"...sounds like poetry :D

IP said...

Hey, I am all in for the blogger meet, so let me know when and where.
As far as footy is concerned, I hope the Saints win, but the Cats look red hot at the moment - especially after the drubbing they handed to the Pies last weekend.

Sparkling said...

Happy Pujo JB :)

Reading the post almost emanates a spiritual experience to the reader :) Now I know why my friend insists on rushing to Calcutta every year during Durga Pujo.

JB said...

@ Sree: you see poetry in funny things. :)

@ IP: Left a message for you..but will keep you posted, what's the email? got in touch with two others, who're interested as well. Hope for the Saints as well, they've been super this year.

@ Sparkling: happy pujo too love. :) arre baba, spiritual and all, eh? enjoy yourself and stay happy...

Ashish Chatterjee said...

Happy Pujos and Shubho Bijoya JB... and thanks for sharing that dhak video... made the day

Passionate Goof said...

Shubho Bijoyaa JB. And trust me I completely understand your emotions. Its wonderful that you attended, and had fun at the Pujo this year. And thanks even more for sharing the info on the Pujo in Melbourne. ;)

JB said...

@ Ashish: shubho bijoya too... I loved that video as well.

JB said...

@ Goofy: Oh you're welcome and happy pujo to you too. Btw, you are in Melbourne?!

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