Pujor Khichudi 2020

Durga Pujo. The quintessential Bengali annual gala. Months of prep leading to the epic finale- the 4 (now 7) days of endless pandal hopping, sumptuous breakfast, lunch, dinner spreads, and late-night snacking. Unlimited Adda, getting stuck in the never-ending traffic at 3 am, long queues to the pandal, and the ultimate pushing and pulling to get a glimpse of Ma Durga and her children. The sound of dhak, the fragrance of dhuno, new clothes and unlimited fuchkas. Anjali, Ashtamir Bhog, and the melancholic Bisorjon rituals. This has been a part of our lives every year since we can recall.

The usual scenes on the road

Not this time. All hell has thus broken loose, a catastrophe is about to unfold. What are we going to do? This is the end of bong-hood as we know. The Mayans were right, they just got the placement of 0s and 1s wrong- which is understandable because Mr. Gates was not around to give his bytes.

Berobona amra pujoye, Pujoye berobona amra?

Oh! Ma Durga, what will happen to our carefully selected repertoire from online hauls, and from the hard fight in the shoe store? What will happen to our yearly catchup with friends that we get to talk once a year? What about PNPC- we need an annual booster shot of that to last us till next year, don’t we? This is all a major conspiracy by the red party with the red flag with star(s), from beyond the Great Walls.

It is impossible for anyone who has had these as an integral part of their lives, to move away from festivities the way we have known it. It obviously evokes a great sense of loss. A loss that none with the indomitable spirit of the national symbol (animal) would accept. But a calamity on a global scale is unfolding and this calls for long sessions of discussions over tea. We have our hands full. And unlike Ma Durga, us mortals have only two hands to deal with it. And with Big Brother (err…. sister) watching over us, we need to ensure that we live up to her expectations, so that we can set examples that she can showcase in the coming months in her great fight with the floral brigade. Last heard she is already busy quashing rumors that she is not too keen on the festivities because it involves an abundant use of a particular flower, she is mildly allergic to.

Ok, I digress. We have by now realized what we cannot do. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we are strong willed enough to get our way. So now we come to the discussion of how to go about celebrating without invoking ire from neighbors and falling under the radar of the big brother from the north. We resort to science. As the great Darwin had stated almost a century back- evolution is the pillar on which life and thus mankind stands. We must evolve and evolve fast. The faster we adapt to the entity called the new normal, the faster we get back what we call life, and everything that comes with being alive. I am sure a lot of us would agree here that Durga Puja is a part of our lives, it always was and will be. We need to immerse ourselves in the spirit of the Puja to feel alive.

So, let us now Zoom in on our options. By now, most of us have got to know about this phenomenal connecting platform, or to Google meet for the G-fans. For the patriotic souls, our beloved Alpha-uncle has brought in a home grown alternative too, that eases transition to through complete replication of the earlier known user interface. So, we have a lot of options that give us ample reasons to get into our new clothes, take our cuppa and get on that adda with our friends. The 40 minute/ 1 hr. limits would only ensure timed breaks to refill our plates and cups. Our friendly neighborhood delivery guys have meanwhile been deployed in red and orange to manage our hunger pangs. So, our addas, cuppas and binging are taken care of. We now proceed to other necessities.

The Boys can also save some hassles on the dress ups if the meet is on Zoom
Bhog, served through your friendly delivery guys

Most of the Pujas by now would also have got on Insta and Facebook, or the resourceful would have developed their own platforms to showcase what their artisans have been up to over the last few months. Come on, you would have to agree that getting a Darshan of Ma Durga without the traffic snarls, and endless waiting in queues frees up your time for more Darshan, and more addas. So pandal mobbing is taken care of.

Let’s keep the videos coming and the scrolling going

That leaves us with the arduous task of trying to figure out how to soak in the sounds and sights without venturing on to the streets. I am sure for once we can open our windows and pump up the volumes on our speakers without worrying about neighbors complaining. We will have enough streaming material on our smartphones and tablets to last us the five days.

Yes, I do agree that despite our technology guided best efforts, we may fall short of meeting expectations at some levels. Let us park those aside for the next year. As the great poet had once said,

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

So, we need to feel the light and have faith to step into a new day.

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