Saturday, October 1, 2016

Durga Puja!!!

This is the first one without Rajesh, it is going to be many years and so many memories. His enthusiasm for Puja was beyond words. Buying clothes, to driving late night to every pandal( after office), to eating out was just unmatched. Rajesh would wear his crispiest dhoti with a superb silk kurtas and look every inch a star. He knew how to dress!
He would drag all his friends, office colleagues etc to the puja pandal. His office friends too find it hard to imagine a Puja bhog without him.

It took few years for me to get into his madness of durga puja and the concept itself. I couldn't fathom why all bongs went from one pandal to other and looked at the diety( which to me looked the same) and commented or judged them. And that too so late at night. Me being a early bird this was a toughest part... to stay awake!
Once I met another friend who is also married to a Bong and his look was like why I am being dragged here...we had a private joke on this that we will start a "married to bongs"club where we can exchange notes.
I also couldn't understand the Bong fetish of planning for what to eat next while we were at it. But I guess it takes a while to get into this.

To combat that, I found a way out-
I started shopping at pandals, the sarees, the various designs of shakha polas ( I have at least 5 different pairs by now ) and indulgence in sweets. Being vegetarian, I couldn't handle non- veg and greasy food ( that seemed to be the highlight of pandal cuisine).
I am a great fan of the bhog and always wondered why couldn't they give some khichandi( for poor souls like me) also in the evenings and on the Dashmi day too.I went along with all this and I did it only for him.

Slowly the puja ferver seeped into my blood along with Rajesh's insanity of staying awake.  I started enjoying the madness and actually started looking forward to it. I also understood the difference in the art and craft of each diety( big one for me). I figured the Bengali script and translated some food descriptions for Rajesh at the pandals. My bong friends also teased me about it my Bengaliness. Often people mistook him to be the non-bong and me the other one ( of course they never heard me speak).
When I joined Yogoda, he always joked about finding a guru and that too a bong!! I loved the last day of Shidur khela, not so much for applying the colour to each other but for putting the sindhoor on the forehead of Maa. It was just divine feeling being so upclose with diety.

Last year, I knew that he was going...and there was a profound sadness  that he will not be there for the next one. He had bought me the classical red white saree to be worn at puja only, I wanted to at least apply the sindhoor to Maa...just one last time...that never happened (this is some part of me that I can't understand) . I knew that I could never do that again ...ever. He was so sick that I couldn't leave him for even for a short time.

Sometimes when I open my cupboard, I move my hands over the stuff that I have tucked away in the corner,the red and white sari, shakha- pola- and tears start flowing down, unceasingly..

I still haven't wrapped my head about how to go there or whether I can even bear to go there at all. It's all him there at every corner of those places...