California: Just a few more days to read the Puja (Durga Puja 2021). Nowadays I don’t know why my mind wants to hold on to the old more. With black and white memories, one walks through the alleys of Kolkata, the lost city of Kabeka. Maybe the moments left behind because I am far away from my hometown come to mind more. Just like that, a memory came to me while writing this article.
From this time onwards, just before Puja (Durga Puja 2021), we would be surrounded by the smell of a strange flower in the evening. Even after trying a lot, I could not understand, this smell is coming from words, what is the smell of flowers? Later I found out that the smell was of Chatim flower. When you leave the place where the tree is, you can feel that drunken smell for a while. As I sit down to write this, my geographical location with the city of Calcutta is a million yojanas away. It’s been a long time and I can’t smell that chatim anymore!
Maybe shopping for Bengali Puja (Durga Puja 2021) is now a last minute preparation. As a child, I used to go to New Market with my parents to buy pujo. I walked from shop to shop, carrying a bag of new clothes and shoes in my hand. The crowd of tea shops was also worth seeing. I could see yes, what an impossible skill tea-ola uncle is making a mug from above, pouring tea and milk! At the end of the shopping there would come a time when Don started the meeting with a needle in his stomach. Holding my father’s hand, I would enter Amina or Siraj. The smell of plate-filled biryani and chicken pressure seemed to satisfy half the hunger.
In America, most Durga Puja (Durga Puja 2021) is performed on the last two days of the week i.e. Saturday and Sunday. Any school premises or school auditorium in the area is rented on the occasion of Durgapujo. Nah, no decorators are available here. So, from the courtyard of the mother worship, to the cultural stage, everything is arranged by the members of the expatriate club with their own hands.
This was Pujo’s meeting with the expatriate members at Lake Elizabeth Park last Sunday. Discussion about who will do what in Pujo ceremony. Oma! Go and see there jhalamuri, tea and Bengali message! The same Duggapujo discussion, tea jhalamuri with him! The afternoon seemed to shine brighter. It seemed as if we were having a discussion of pujo in a neighborhood of Kolkata.
Every year there is a ‘Bay Area Expatriate’ Pujo ceremony, a special surprise! The two days of Pujo were jammed with dances, songs, dramas etc. Yes, most pujo in America is done on weekends. But the funny thing is, on the occasion of just two days of pujo, the enthusiasm of all the members of the pujo started from about three months ago. Just as talented musicians come from all over the country to perform, the cultural festivals of different tastes of the expatriate members are filled with the best festivals of the Bengalis.
In the aftermath of the epidemic in 2020, almost everything was stagnant. But after overcoming the epidemic, the expatriate Bengalis are going to rise again. This year, at the Pujo ceremony of ‘Bay Area Expatriates’, we are going to get a special guest, Mrs. Kavita Krishnamurthy, a prominent music artist. Bay area’s music-loving Bengalis will float in the silence of its melody. There will also be a play by Kachikancha under the direction of Soumen Mitra, a member of Prabasi. Floating in the rhythm of Umar’s arrival, the dance will be dedicated, led by Guru Sri Sanjeev Bhattacharya, directed by Bay Area dancer, Urmi Chakraborty.
As I write this, I am going back again and again to the past. I remember very well, in school life, about two months before this Durga Puja, the process of the Puja of the neighborhood would have started. Led by sisters, dance or song rehearsals were held every day. A group of boys and girls from the neighborhood used to shout together, sometimes Chitrangada, sometimes Shyama or Chandalika. He was no exception in this exile. Expatriate member and very talented musician Dr. Jayshree Roy. Our beloved Jayshree Di has arranged a unique beautiful idea, this year’s Pujo song program. Devi Paksha will have a good start, under its management, and a meeting place with other expatriate artists, called ‘Rupang Dehi’.
Mrs. Shamita Sen, a senior member of the expatriate community, was talking to our dear Shamita Di about this one day. Shamita Di told me a uniquely beautiful story. ! But at that time I saw those who were older than us, what an absolute compassion, what caress drew us. At that moment, coming from Calcutta to this distant country, in their love, it seemed as if we were in our own place. “
“How beautifully our elder grandfather Baudi shared the burden of this puja in the hands of some young Bengali boys and girls who had just come from abroad. In the hands of the generation. The only goal of our expatriates is for our sons and daughters to respect their roots even in this country. “
The current secretary of Bay Area Expatriates, Mrs. Bitan Biswas. While writing about the worship and activities of the expatriates, how many times have I teased that Bitan Di by phone. In the midst of the busyness of the office all day, he listened to me with his mind, this article has helped me with a lot of information about the activities of expatriates.
I thank God in my heart after hearing about the activities of expatriates from Shamita Di, Bitan Di, and the efforts to further expose the Bengali culture to the next generation. It will remind us again and again, about our roots, our responsibility towards our country.