Monday, October 22, 2012
Durga Puja: The Bombay Way
Now that you have stumbled upon a Bengali blog, please bear with me as I go gaga over the ONLY thing that matters to us (apart from Sourav Ganguly): yes, I am talking about Durga Puja. The laidback, lazy people that we are, there is just ONE thing in the whole year that motivates us to get up, go out and do something productive, i.e. the five days of pandal hopping during this festive occasion.
There is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING like Durga Puja: the lights, the glamour, the noise, the overall euphoria, the spirit of togetherness and of course the food. Now I never understood why so many people fast during festivals, be it Eid, Navratri or Good Friday, because, the way I see it, festivals are meant to be enjoyed, and I simply CANNOT enjoy myself without meat or alcohol. To me, Durga Puja has never been about religion or spirituality, but more about being with family/friends, dressing up, going out and eating to heart’s content.
Even though I hadn’t been to Kolkata for Durga Puja in quite a few years, my parents have always been around in Mumbai, and we would do the usual rounds of Shivaji Park and Tejpal Hall, just to get the flavour of Durga Puja. But this year, since I was all by myself, I decided to make the most of the occasion, instead of moping around and feeling nostalgic and jealously tracking FB posts of my friends enjoying themselves in Kolkata.
So, it all began on Friday, when even the Puja pandals weren’t ready, but we were, as we braved the Friday evening traffic and drove down to godforsaken Lokhandwala to catch a glimpse of the much touted Durga Puja organized by the famous singer, Abhijeet. While I found it pretty ordinary compared to the pomp and grandeur associated with even local mandaps in Kolkata, I gave it the benefit of doubt, since it was only Panchami after all. We made up for the disappointment by having an elaborate seafood dinner at Mahesh Lunch Home, as we feasted on fish and crabs washing it down with whiskey.
The next day, we did the typical Bengali pandal hopping, doing the rounds around Powai, Kanjurmarg, Bhandup and Mulund, desperately trying to recreate the childhood days when we would walk for miles, not missing out on any pandal, however small it may be. But it was JUST.NOT.THE.SAME.
Yesterday, we decided that desperate situations called for desperate measures, as I convinced a dear friend (note: no longer a long lost undergraduate acquaintance) to sneak us inside Rani Mukherjee’s puja in Juhu. This time, I decked up in a sari and completed the Bengali look with kohled eyes, big bindi and heels, trying to mingle with the well-turned out crowd. There was a two-hour performance by Hema Malini, and while I would not take anything away from her, I found the entire show to be mind-numbingly dull. It simply refused to get over, and as I longingly pondered over the tempting food stalls lined up just outside the stage, I was almost murderous with rage and hunger. Finally, when it did wind up, none of the stalls would serve my favourite fish fry/fish chop, and I had to be content with an egg roll, and if you know me, that’s nothing short of a sacrilege.
Anyway, here’s a pic of me in the sari, taken just before we left.
All said and done, here I am, sitting in office on an Ashtomi, but I still have a lot to look forward to…