Its that time of the year when Bengalis all over the world come out to celebrate Durga Poojo and why should the Bongs (as u guys call us) in Madras be any different. So the Bongs in Madras have their own celebrations for their favourite and most important festival. There are quite a few pandals put up various groups and societies. I have been told that the T. Nagar one is supposedly the oldest and biggest. Today I went to the festivities organised by SMCA— the South Madras Cultural Association at Beasant Nagar as I do every year.
This time the pandal seems to be rather well made and arrangements have been made to prevent the rain from being a spoil sport as it did with the India-Aus test match. First went in to see the idol. Aarthi was going on so there was the beat of the Dhak which is a drum like thingy and smoke all over due to the burning incense and whatever else is used during one of these aarthis. The poor priest guy was sweating all over as were most of us. Got a little psyched when i heard so many people speaking Bangla in the place- just not used to that. The idol seemed the same as every year. The organisers haven't tried anything special. In Calcutta lots of places have themed pandals. Few years there were Titanic pandals. Basically the pandals in Calcutta reflect a lot of whats happening currently. Though this year the police in Calcutta have told organisers not to have any themes related to hanging as would have been the favourite theme considering the Dhananjoy Chatterjee story and stuff. The idol here in Beasant Nagar was simple and usual with Godess Durga in the middle killing the demon and to her right are Saraswati and Ganesh and to her left Lakshmi and Karthik. Don't ask me to put any fundaes on the myth and religious significances coz i know very little.
After the aarthi got over picked up the prasad and went to food stalls. I wait one whole year just for this. The poojo may mean different things for different; but for me poojo means great food at the food stalls at the pandal and the Bengali girls(by default beautiful) who come to the Pandal. Today had egg roll(don't have to explain what that is), chicken Muglai Parota(stuffed kind of a parotta very diffent from the Punjabi parottas and fish Kabiraji(fish fillets fried in an egg batter). The food is what i miss most about Calcutta. Madras just doesn't have that kind of roadside food.
After picking up the food came back home.
The Durga poojo here is nothing compared to what happens in Calcutta. One my biggest regrets in life is not actually seeing a Durga poojo in Calcutta. I've had to make do with the SMCA pandal.
I strongly recommend that all of reading this go to any of the Bengali pandals during this time of the year and sample a slice of Calcutta in Madras. The best time to go would be in the evening. Today was 'Saptami' the 7th day of Dussera. U've got 2 more days. So hurry up. The immersion is on Saturday and will take place at the Beasant Nagar beach.
HAPPY DURGA POOJO !!!!!!!!!!!!