Oh, the forthcoming Pujas!

I am feeling hyper-excited. I will be visiting Jamshedpur for the Pujas after 18 years! 18 whole years! I stay in Bangalore and I will travel with my family to be there in Jamshedpur for the Pujas. My sons, now 14 and 12, will be there for the Pujas at Jamshedpur for the first time!

I know I will miss the Mahalaya at Jamshedpur, that joy of waking up before dawn and listening to Chandi-Paath in Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s voice in the old Murphy radio. But I will pull out the two-volume set of cassettes I have and listen to the paath pre-dawn in Bangalore just as everyone is around the country!

I am looking forward to sitting on the terrace (“chhat”) of my parents’ house listening to the beats of the dhaak through the evening. That throbbing beat which makes you want to jump up-and-down, swing sideways, clap and generally get into a trance. I want to dance and give myself up to the joyous excitement of the pujas.

I look forward to seeing endless streams of men, women and children, all clad in their festive clothing, walking up and down our “road” visiting one pandal and then the other. (There are four puja pandals in a kilometer’s radius of my house)

I would have liked to be there arguing with the localities donation (chanda) collectors about the amount of contribution we could make. But perhaps I will be too late for that. The chanda would have either been committed for or collected already.

I look forward to wearing a set of new clothes each day of the Pujas, Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Bijoya. I have ensured that my children and my wife too wear new clothes. And as a surprise I have planned for my parents who are in their 80’s and 70’s, (father is going on 84 and mother on 79) they will wear sets of new clothes each day of the pujas. Just as my parents ensured with my father’s meager earnings that all six of us siblings could do so.

I will buy all the pujo-barshikis and try and read some of it. So what if my fluency with Bangla script is a bit rusted now. And I will certainly read Shankar’s (Mani Shankar Mukherjee of Chowringhee fame – among many others) story if he is still writing.

I look forward to the trips to the puja pandal where I can bow to the Goddess and seek her blessings. Not before I lift my children (I am sure much to their amusement, and embarrassment) to enable them to get a darshan of Ma Durga. Just as my father did when I was a kid.

I have planned to buy for my children the small toys I used to enjoy when I was a kid. That water-filled rubber balloon slung on a thin elastic rubber tube which served as “yo-yo”. That plastic monkey which slithers down the spring-like stalk as you turn the toy up, and then down.

I want to be a part of the aarati competition each evening. Not as a participant, of course, but as a member of the audience. I want to smell the sweet, intoxicating aroma of dhoop as I stand in the crowd watching the aarati dancers to the beat of the dhaak. The dhaakis going round-and round in their own trance. My youngest sister who won all the aarati competitions she took part in will not be there as a participant but I will still cheer all those who do participate.

I would like to treat my family to phuchkaas, son-papadi, ghughni, chicken-rolls and other such heavenly snacks from the sundry vendors stationed around the pandal.

I would love to buy the coupons for the khichudi moha-prosaad and have the prosaad for lunch each day. That heavenly sweetish khichudi with kumdo vegetable.

I look forward to hanging around the para’s pujo pandal in the evenings. Who knows, I may be lucky and able to spot some of those girls who I used to eye when I was a teenager! Never mind if they are all married and with grown-up kids! I can still introduce my kids to their “aunties”!

I plan to sneak behind the pujo-pandal and grab a few surreptitious puffs of a cigarette away from the vigilant eyes of Jethi-mas, Jethu, Kakus, Kakis, Pishi-mas, pishi-moshays and everyone else.

If they still have jatras, I will watch at least one show braving the late night chill. And cry unabashedly at the predicament of the hero and the heroine.

I do not have text-books any more but I will carry whatever books I will have with me for reading in the vacation to the puja-pandal on the Bijoyadashmi day to seek Durga Maa’s blessings. And watch the women of the para applying sindoor on each other.

I shudder to think of the women crying on that last day of the pujas grieving about Durga Ma’s departure for the year. I think I may end up crying too!

My kids and I would line up the street and watch the immersion procession with me holding my kids’ hands. Cheering each grand statue as it passes by.

I would go to each of our neighbour’s house in the evening and touch the feet of the jethus and jethi-mas and do kola-koli with all my childhood friends. And eat mehidaana, sondesh, ghughni and loochi.

The day after Bijoya, I will go over in my mind the days just gone past reveling in the memories. And plan my trip to Jamshedpur for the next year’s pujas.

Oh to be in Jamshedpur, for the Pujas!



32 Responses to Oh, the forthcoming Pujas!

  1. Jaspal Singh says:

    Dear Santosh,

    I appreciate your feeling about your own city named tatanagar.com and you can always feel being there when you visit http://www.tatanagar.com and sepcially http://www.tatanagar.com/introduction-2.html section to give your glimpse of durga puja last year.

    Do share your views and ideas to make this portal more useful.


    Jaspal Singh

  2. Amla Sirsi says:

    This one is very good. I will wait for your piece after yr visit.

  3. santoshojha says:

    Thank you! I hope to write something on my Jamshedpur visit.

  4. Abhijit Sanyal says:

    After a long time I got such a wonderful and emotional description of Puja . Boss, in our day to day work we sometimes become a machine However this was really brought almost all my childhood meories back like a Canvas which I have almost bound to forget. I only have one regret ,I cant make my dad to wear a new cloth and to play with his granddaughter.

  5. Rajarshi Bhattacharya says:

    Terrific rendition Santosh! You have an innate ability of cross-weaving latent emotions in your readers’ minds. “Nostalgia” is your leitmotif … In times when life becomes so corporatised and professional your piece makes us refreshingly touch base with our roots compulsorily… I shall not be around the eastern parts of India this time but can re-live the memories you have ignited…It’ll not be too bad this time missing those good old days!! I look forward to your expressions upon your return from Jamshedpur… “The Puja Aftermath” …. And here’s wishing you “Shaarodiyo Shubhechhaa” well in advance!!!

  6. Raaj Prasad says:

    I would usually envy your Jsr Puja Trip – but its OK as I am looking forward to the 1st hand experince of your trip. I am sure it would be as enjoyable to read as the above piece….. I had really forgotten about the Yo Yo and the spring monkey. Get one monkey toy for my son. He is in the 10th but I sure he hasn’t seen one.
    Have a Ball Santosh.

  7. santoshojha says:

    Abhijit: I am happy that you could recollect some of your old memories with this piece of mine. Anyway, you are in Kolkata which must now be right in the midst of the Puja fever!

    Rajarshi: Thanks! As I said earlier, I would attempt to write some stuff after my return from JSR.

    Raaj Prasad: Sure I will get that spring monkey for your son. I hope I find it there! Who knows the Chinese manufacturers may have caused the demise of the monkey toy. Remember what the Japanese did to our very own “lattu” with their Bey Blade?

  8. Madhumita Ghosh says:

    Am in my tears ….so much emotional..thinking of rushing to JSR right moment to my Olden Golden days.

    Post your visit, want to read AANKHO DEKHA HAAL…
    Best Regards

  9. Indrojit Sinha says:

    Santosh, As good as ever. Thanks !! It brings back wonderful memories I have, like the “Maut Ka Kuwa” in Burmamines Mela, pretty girls in Sabuj Kalyan Sangha, Telco and the “Malsa Bhog” of Beldih Kalibari and on and on…. I still believe those were the best days of my life….my pockets were empty but my cup of joy was always overflowing.. today it is ULTA… Regards, Indrojit.

  10. sandeep raja says:

    Santosh Ji,
    After reading this i myself am planning to be there in Jsr for the pujas,which as such i would’nt have planned for.Baap Re Ekdam Realistic Hay!!!!!!!!!!!
    Happy Durga Puja to you and your Family.
    Sandeep Raja and Family

  11. santoshojha says:

    Madhumita: The “aankhon dekha haal” will follow. maybe I should do a series of daily posts after each day. There is so much excitement in the air here these days!

    Indrojit: After years someone reminds me of the maut ka kuwa! Yes, agree with you on the cup of joy.

    Sandeep: Do get in touch when you land at Jamshedpur! Happy Durga Puja to you and your family too!

  12. G.Mohan says:


    Great post. I could transplanted to my childhooddays in Bhilai, which is just another steel town like Jamshedpur.

    You seem to have a built a nice community around your blog, what with so many comments.

    Keep it coming !!


  13. Surojit Sanyal says:

    Hi Santosh

    Its really nostalgic to remember about Durga Puja at Jamshedpur. I still believe that Jamshedpur during pujas are the best place on earth.
    since early childhood as you would remember puja atmosphere in our house used to start with the first published copy of the “Pujo Brashiki” published by Deb Sahitya Kutir followed by the AnandoLok , Anondo Mela ,Anondo Bazar Patrikaand Desh from the ABP house and used to end with Jugantar.
    I still rember myself enjoying at the Contractors Area pujo panadal and Ghashi Club with occasional visits to Beldih Kalibari. As we grew up the memories of late evening “spirits” and as you pointed out the puffs away from the glaring eyes of Kakus and Jethus in the pandal.
    I envy your visit to old Jampot during pujas and hope I could make it, but unfortunately I am unable to.
    I hope to enjoy my pujas at Delhi with Jamshedpureans placed here and would expect another fantastic piece post your puja visit to Jamshedpur.

  14. Surojit Sanyal says:

    And Santosh I forgot as usual a very very happy pujas to you and your family and my pronam toyour parents.

  15. Tanmay Roy says:

    Dear Santosh ji

    Thanks fora vivid rendition and recollection of good old days. I am not sure with age catching up whether you will be as much mesmerized by the charms of Durga Puja now as you did before. Watching from a child’s perspective diffrers from that of an adult. In any case I would like to prove wrong.

    I am a Calcuttan, but now staying in Bhilai. I am also President of a local puja Commiittee. Although the local puja in Bhilai can not match those of Calcutta pujas in crafsmanship and gorgeousness, but he puja here in Bhilai is more homely,definitely enjoyable with daily bhog of Khichuri, payas and what not. The tradition of daily cultural programme is still maintained. But the involvement of gennext i.e. the youth is dwindling. This is a cause of concern.

    Thanks and best wishes

  16. rajiv sahai says:

    Your passage on durga puja at jsr made my eyes reminiscentingly moist with goose pimples on my skin. Surely the best period of our lives, so full of innocencent celebration. And by the by you do write well (now!!)

  17. santoshojha says:

    Mohan: This post has attracted a few readers and some comments. What I thought was a pretty personal kind of a piece appears to have a struck a chord in many a reader. Thank you all those who have written back, either here on this site or individually by email.

    Surojit: Great to hear from you after ages! I hope to do the Ghasi Club, etc besides the newer destinations in JSR. Thanks for your detailed comments.

    Tanmay Da: Thanks for your comments. Let us see what the next 4-5 days hold, tomorrow is Shashthi! Whether the old mesmerism works or not, I do not know. But I shall faithfully record it here on my blog. Wish you Very Happy Pujas.

    Rajiv: Thanks. The feeling which this piece evoked had grabbed me a couple of days before we set off from Bangalore to JSR. And this piece was written unplanned, in one sitting; post midnight!! And thanks for the comment on my writing skills! I take it as a compl!!!

  18. Dr.Seema says:

    Santosh, by the time I finished reading I had tears in my eyes and wishing that I was back in Kolkata! Wonderful piece as usual…. I too listened to chandi paath online…and will be taking my children to see the puja here in Bangalore. Last year was the first time I went here to see the durga pratimas and had tears flowing down my cheeks…..I realised then that I really really miss Kolkata and especially PUJO. Even though I am a Gujrati, I tell everyone that I am a Bengali at heart! 🙂 Enjoy your stay there and will be waiting for the next piece of what you actually could manage to do ;-). Hope the kids are enjoying their stay there….

  19. Tejaswita says:

    I have been reading your articles very regularly…and this is indeed beautiful…Its makes me so very nostalgic ..Just feel like going back to Jamshedpur and the school days……Just lovely…Look forward to your next posting

  20. santoshojha says:

    Seema: I am glad you liked the piece. I hope my piece brought a little bit of the Kolkata/ Jamshedpur spirit of the Pujas to you at Bangalore.

    Tejaswita: Thanks. You may like to read my Jamshedpur Puja 2008 Diary, posts pertaining to Shashthi and Saptami have been posted on my blog.

  21. Narayan Rai bhatt says:

    I want to thank you, Shantosh. the amount of creativity and interest you have putten to show us the real picture and the real moments of Durga Puja of JAMSHEDPUR.

    Thanks again
    Narayan and Gautam, Pune

  22. santoshojha says:

    Mr Narayan and Mr Gautam: Thanks you very much, sirs!

  23. Akansha singh says:

    The description of your childhood toy and bhog clearly defines the festive mood that prevails in jamshedpur and various other parts of india during the puja.
    It is a complete masterpiece!

  24. santoshojha says:

    Akansha: Thanks a lot! Jamshedpur Pujas are indeed wonderful!

  25. Rupak says:

    Wonderful.. This brings back my memories…
    When I was at the age of 7 or 8, I was lost in Burmamines Mela. I was there with my parents. I thought my parents abondoned me, as i often create problems for them!! I was crying, loittering here & there. One kind hearted fellow gave me 1 rupee. I took a bus & returned home in Baridih.
    Things started funny there in the mela! My mother has gone mad & cursing committee members & told them unless & untill she gets her son back she will not leave the committee office. Committee was announcing my name in loud speakers. My father frantically searching me in mela prangan. Then somebody said to my father “dekhiye, aapka beta ghar chala giya hoga”.
    Only then my father returned to Baridih (with his Vespa150 scooter) to check & found myself, calmly eating sweets on neighbour’s home!!!

    Wish you shubho bijoya.


  26. santoshojha says:

    Rupak: That’s JSR! A stranger funding your bus trip home and your neighbour feeding you mishti! Burma Mines mela I could not visit this year, unfortunately.
    PS: My father used to have a Lambretta scooter!

  27. Raghav says:

    Dear sir
    what puja is for me was a ten day feast,aloo fired in ghee,palak cooked in stone salt(sendhanamak),sabudana with lot of kazu and kismish,makhana fried and fruits no grians in food(FOR ALL 9 DAYS). while my PITA JEE and MAA use to chant Durgasupsati for hours me and my brother use to accompany them at last for aarti,when forced by maa i few tmes chanted hanuman chalisa.Tenth day was use to be longest day with HAWAN and series of ashirwad taking process.
    your blog reminded all those excitement thank you making me feel i am still a kid.

  28. Raj Prasad says:

    I left Jamshedpur in 1974. I still miss the Durga Puja of my town. I visit Jamshedpur at least once every other year, but it is usually during the summer months.
    I have not been able to return for the puja.

    I have been trying various organization and individuals to get me professional pictures of Durga Puja Idols.
    Please help me with digital pictures of Idols professionally photographed.

    • santoshojha says:

      I am away from Jamshedpur myself. I do not know how to help you, except to offer to mail you some of the full size pictures I took last year. My effort is certainly not professional class.

      Do let me know.

  29. Lalitha says:

    Very good piece. It brought back memories of many Pujas witnessed when we used to live in Kolkata. I have never been to Jamshedpur myself, but many of my college friends were from Jamshedpur, and we used to make the train journey from Madras to Kharagpur together, after which I would proceed to Calcutta.

    I would love to read your follow-up piece after your visit.

  30. priyaranjan says:

    Hi Santosh, Thanks for writing such a nice article and sharing all these experiences which I often found my own. Life changes as we grow, I do try to visit JSR every alternate Durga Puja..but somehow, I will miss this year…May Maa Durga fills your life with hapiness :)..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: