2008/10/10

Puja now and after..

If I were to paint her , I would first sharpen my pencil to the finest point to draw her features - slanting eyes , a small sharp nose , a curved mouth set in a heart shaped face that we call paan pata in Bengali which literally translated means betel leaf shaped in prosaic English . She would be an intriguing blend of demure daughter , a minx and a raging fury .




On Panchami , which is the fifth night of Navaratri , the image comes - a small clay statuette , slim hipped, many armed , bare of any embellishment .

Over the next two nights , artisans work to create her finery - decking her out in her beautiful clothes , adorning her with traditional jewellery , creating a work of art which is an absolute wonder.

















The flower trays for the worship

The seasonal flower - shiuli - small white stars with bright orange centres


The one hundred and eight lotuses for the sandhi puja ,Rama's worship of Durga before his battle with Ravana, leaves of the bel tree , three to a stalk carefully checked for any blemishes ; the blemished leaves go into the basket for the anjali


Flowers - jaba and aparajita traditionally a part of the ritual worship

More flowers used in the worship , this time marigold, lotus, tulsi and bel leaves

On Dashami , the puja before Durga is prepared for the journey ahead back to Kailash, from her parents' house . The bhog comprises of panta bhaat , cooked rice with water poured over it and gandharaj lebu and slit green chillies for frangrance , kochur saag ( stalks of the arvi plant ) cooked with coconut , flaked rice mixed with mishti doi and batasha ( sugar candy ) - ,( all these are cooling foods which are appropriate for the journey ahead ) sweets made with chhana , naarkel naaru and fruits - banana , sweet lime , grapefruit , apples ,pomegranate and cucumber.

There is a pathos in the mantras which the priests chant - the lament of Durga's parents as their daughter prepares to leave , the invocation to nature to be gentle as their daughter takes the long path home to her husband's house, the entreaty to come again the next year - the priests are in tears as they prepare the bowl in which the symbolic immersion takes place - water is mixed with turmeric and a small silver mirror is angled so that the tiny aalta ( a red liquid used by married women to paint their feet and toes) smeared foot of Durga can be seen .

It is now time to bid adieu

Babughat is a total mess . The idols are taken out of the lorries , one after the another , and then carted unceremoniously by the coolies - there is a strange helplessness about the idols and they look almost human as they are hauled to the river bank hurriedly - the more they dump the more money they get- and then eased head first into the shallows, to be immediately stripped of the trappings , separated from the wooden frame and straw , and left to disintegrate back into the mud. On the banks there are huge piles of shiny toxic weaponry and finery , hopefully to be carted off in the morning .

For now the memories of the revels remain - the shining lights , the glimmer of light on the idol's face from the spotlight , the new clothes of the children , the childlike dressing up of the adults - a surreal setting . Today the market has crashed , there is an explosion in Pakistan .. so it is really back to reality with a bang

21 comments:

hillgrandmom said...

You bet it's 'reality with a bang' a big bang!

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Obviously written in a hurry, but some very evocative parts. Thanks.

J.A.P.

eve's lungs said...

@HG- absolutely
@JAP- So true - I wanted to post the pictures of the lotuses actually - the writing bit was by the way

Mystic Margarita said...

Your post made me nostalgic, EL. Speaking of bel leaves, since these are not found here, they got a three-leaf clover-type leaf which looks like bel leaves for the pujo, which will be held tomorrow. :) Shubho Bijoya to you and your family, too. :)

La Delirante said...

Your pictures always make me want to get a ticket to India! :) Interesting traditions and the bright colours of the flowers! Amazing.

eve's lungs said...

@Mystic - Aw - come home for Pujo next year
@Wen - Come come - :)

Manasa said...

Durga idol is called Kumortuli, right? :)

eve's lungs said...

No - they are made in Kumartuli

La Delirante said...

:) I wish I could go next year or the year after...it would be the trip of my life :) The tickets are so expensive though I think it is mainly due to the fuel prices increase :( but I hope that once things are more stable (financially speaking in the world) the tickets will go down and then I will start preparing my trip :)

Mama - Mia said...

a beautifully poignant post onlt you could have written EL!

now i am really tempted to pan a trap to east next year around this time! it seems unfair to not get to experience it for real.

cheers!

abha

Sonnjea said...

Very beautiful - photos and words.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

You brought Durga Pujo alive for me again! I can't believe we have to wait one whole year! Sigh!

tulips said...

beutiful post, the pics are fantastic!

eve's lungs said...

@Wen -Plan and come Wen You'll enjoy yourself.
@Abha - Oh you kind soul
@Sonnjea - Thanks lady
@M3 -Before you know it its over - next year come down to my Puja
@Tulips - hello - thanks

DotThoughts said...

I have always wanted to visit Calcutta during Pujo. This post just gave me glimpse of what I missed! Great pictures. I loved learning the bengali names of flowers. what is tye flower aparajita in english?

Rimi said...

I'm back after ages... and thank you, RM, for such an absolutely lovely post. Ki shundor chhobi tulechho.

Bijoya shommilonir chhobi diye aekta post koro na?

Dédalus said...

It's really a hard and incredible work and it looks very nice.

Regards from Spain, Eve.

Akila said...

have always wanted to visit the pandals in Calcutta during Puja time...! But have had to make do with pandals in cities that I have lived in....

Tagore Town said...

Wonderfully presented..just brought back Durga Pujo as I knew it, with names like jaba and aparajito...just took me back home after years.

ajiteshbiswas1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shravya Reddy said...

nice article! Maa durga will always stay in the heart of her devotees, daily I offer her prayers by chanting durga mantra at least once.