Memories of Durga Puja..

Today is Saptami, the 7th day of Durga Puja, but before I say anything else, I want to thank all of you for your wonderful suggestions and tips! Will try out all these and will definitely let you know how it goes! Our Blog world is awesome! Thank you again!

When I was growing up, Saptami was a much awaited day. I grew up in Jamshedpur, which has a huge Bengali presence and Durga Puja used to be celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. In our colony, there used to be several pooja pandals.Β  According to my friends, who had been to Kolkatta during Pujas, we had better ones – but I am sure they are biased πŸ™‚ The first indication that the Pujas are not far away would be several pooja committee members coming to our houses for contribution to their pujaΒ  fund. If we contribute, we would get a token, to take to the pandal for Bhog.

And then as the days near, there would be frantic activity in the grounds where the pandals were made. There used to be intense competition among the pandals – even with our colony.Β  Some of them were so artistic!Β  The festive feeling would be in the air. There would be discounts in stores. Most of my friends were Bengali, and would be discussing the new clothes they got and the ones they bought for gifting.. And then the school holidays would start. Pandals would blare out Bollywood songs – which then used to be fun, now I find loud music very irritating πŸ™‚

The idols were totally awe-inspiring. Magestic looking Ma Durga poised triumphantly over Mahishasur! What better symbol of the power of a female goddess! It saddened me deeply when I heard that later, some idols were given features of Bollywood stars. Surely, there has to be a limit to commercialization? At that time, everything seemed wonderful – the aarti, the drums in the background, the smell of camphor in the air… And the bhog! Yum! What is it about prasads and bhogs that make them so delicious?

But Saptami day was what I used to wait for. It was onΒ  Saptami day, that we would all start visiting pandals. The main side attraction would be all the gol-gappas , chats,Β  egg rolls, which even my majorly hygiene conscious mother would not object too much to, during the puja days. My parents could never fathom, how, we would gulp down spicy chaats , which were too spicy by most standards. And we could walk for miles without complaining πŸ™‚ Normally family friends would gather together at a place and go pandal visiting together. It used to be a treat to meet classmates or school mates and compare how many pandals we had done πŸ™‚ Some of the pandals, along with the eating stalls, also had huge Melas with giant wheels and all sorts of rides and exhibitions of arts and crafts.

Saptami and Ashtami, we would go out only in the evenings. Ashtami day, we would keep our books in the temple, for Saraswati Pooja.Β  So until the Pooja is over on Dashami day, we do not read or write, or do anything that is considered ‘skill based’. So for most Malayalis I knew, it used to be heaven. No studying. For me, it was a torture. I was not too bothered by the ‘no studying’ bit, but I had to read. I could not survive a day without reading and was too scared to cheat.Β  My mother used to be very strict – not even reading the newspaper was allowed – I used to be like an drug addict, who was denied her fix πŸ™‚Β  Navami day, we would go out with friends in the morning to the pandals. I suspect,my mother must have been glad to have me out of her hair too. That used to be the only bright side for me. So we used to hog all the junk we could, get on every possible ride.. it used to be so much fun. Evenings again would be with parents and family friends. Pujas seemed more an excuse to have all the fun in the world than to do with anything religious at that point in time πŸ™‚

And then came Dashami. We used to go the Temple for the Saraswati puja. All my Bengali friends used to go to the pandals to bid Ma Durga goodbye until next year. The evening would be full of going over to friends place for the traditional sweets and Ghugni and platters of sweets that friends would drop off at our place. I can’t begin to state, how much I enjoyed those days.. And to think that it has been more than 15 years since I last did all this.

This year, we plan to go to some Durga Pujas near here. The other half of the couple, we celebrated Onam with, is a Bengali, so we plan to celebrate Durga Puja with them this year. Happy Pujas to all of you! And do let me know how you plan to celebrate too.

37 thoughts on “Memories of Durga Puja..

  1. Nice post, Smitha! Navratri has become so commercialised nowadays. But still, it is a fun time to connect with the extended family and community.:)

    I know, everything has become commercialized. But as you say, still a good time to spend time with family and friends.

  2. πŸ™‚
    TS is also from Jamshedpur. Well, Jamshedpur and Ranchi actually . Have only heard wonderful DP stories from him. Wish I could experience it too

    Is it? Wow! I grew up there and Durga Puja there is fabulous! I miss it so much!

  3. You lived in Jamshedpur? I was born there and my husband is from there…

    Yes, Bones, I grew up there. It was home for me till 2006 – when my parents retired and moved to Kerala. You were born there? and your husband is from there πŸ™‚ Wow! Goofy Mumma has a Jamshedpur connection too πŸ™‚

    I’m not a Puja person – used to go once when we were in Gurgaon…I’ve heard there is a puja here but don’t know if I’ll go…

    I used to love the Pujas! This year after ages, we will be going for it again πŸ™‚

  4. Wow!

    Lovely memories! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    I’m going home to Mysore tomorrow! πŸ˜€
    That’s how my celebrations are going to be! πŸ™‚

    Wow! Mysore Dassara is very famous, isn’t it? Do bring back pics! I always wanted to go there when we were in Bangalore – but we never made it 😦

    Psst, Smithus – why have you stopped coming by and commenting?
    Very busy?
    Nahi re – have sent you an email – just my stupidity 😦
    *pixie waits hopefully that Smithus will come back once she has a bit of free time :|*

  5. Nice post Smithu πŸ™‚ So many memories came flashing by πŸ™‚

    We actually arrange the dolls on Day1, but since I ws out of station, gotta do it from today πŸ™‚

    Oh yes – I forgot about that! I used to learn Music when I was in school and my music teacher would do the dolls arranging too- it used to be so wonderful! I used to wait for it! That was one more thing! I totally forgot – but you reminded me πŸ™‚ I love the way the dolls are kept πŸ™‚

    I like Hyderabad in a way wrt the Durga Puja celebrations. There are so many pandals, 3 in the lane where I stay itself and the Visarjan is a huge affair πŸ™‚ So, me hoping we wil hv a nice weekend πŸ™‚

    Am sure you will πŸ™‚ Have a wonderful time!

    U hv a gr8 time too πŸ˜€ Lets celebrate together once we both r bk to pavilion πŸ˜›

    Yes, we sure will! I am so waiting to get back to Blore now, can’t tell you how much!

  6. Thank you for the Puja wishes and bringing the memories afresh Smitha.
    Durga Puja is big in Bokaro too where my in-laws stay at present and we visited them last year at this time. It was a nice experience going to pandals since the whole environment has a festival smell, beautiful decorations and so many people in happy moods.

    Oh yes, I have heard that Bokaro is very similar to Jamshepdur – it is also a township, isn’t it πŸ™‚ It is fun, isn’t it? I used to enjoy it so much!

  7. Nice post Smitha! The fun and form of pooja nicely described.

    Here in Delhi, almost the same thing happens in Chittranjan Park with a huge pandal and idol of Godess Durga and a great temporary market. In the nearby and historic Kalka Mandir, the rush of devotees has to be seen to be believed with shops springing up all around in the narrow galis and on to main roads!

    I think it happens every place, where there are Bengalis πŸ™‚ We went to a Durga Puja here over the weekend – it is was the same! Made me feel so nice πŸ™‚

    Happy Durga Pooja!
    Thank you, you too!

  8. Lovely memories… nd lively too….

    I remember my frnds talking abt the Saraswati puja and used to wonder why i never got to keep my books away!

    πŸ™‚ I can imagine that πŸ™‚ Keeping the books was a treat to most of us πŸ™‚

  9. Oh-you brought back so many memories for me!
    I was feeling silly about wallowing in so much senti stuff bcoz missing Durga Puja-but maybe some memories become a part of us.

    Thanks for the beautiful post

  10. After having grown up in Kerala, where Navrathri celebrations are quite low key, I was simply blown away by the way it is celebrated in other parts of the country, especially in Gujarat. Now that I am back in Kerala, I do wish I could take my kids to other places and show them how Navrathri is celebrated there. I think I am going to read this post to my kids, anyway.

  11. Nice Nostalgic post Smitha!!

    It was when were in Orissa that I really realized the the real significance of Durga Puja. What fun it used to be to move from Pandal to Pandal!!

  12. There are so many pendals being set up all over bangalore this time for navaratri and so much of enthu among people to participate in raas garba/dandiya raas… even I am tempted to go out with bengali and gujrati friends this year!

  13. I don’t have much memories about puja.During school days me and my sis ,used to ask our mom,like can we do pooja(of course for the sake of ‘no studying’ :D) , and she will give permission to close books for one day :D.
    I could not survive a day …ohh really,i was exactly opposite during my childhood πŸ™‚
    between nice post,nice 2 know about all that

  14. Ohh I loved these 10 days of Goddess Durga too! I grew up in MP in a small township where there were quite a lot of Bengalis.. We used to have garba nights, khichdi bhogs etc etc.. I soo miss the Bhog.. and so i decided to make my own khichdi bhog this year! πŸ™‚

    Then there was “Kanya Bhojans” on ashtami or navami i guess.. we used to go to mom’s friends’ places, they used to dress us up, feed us, give us money(!!!!) and basically whole lot of fun…

    Wish you a happy Dusshehra/Durga Puja… πŸ™‚

  15. You have narrated so nicely about the Durga pooja, Smitha! Even after 15 years, you remember even small details! It was nice to read.

    A bit busy now…so for once my comment is not long!

  16. You grew up in Jamshedpur???? :):) I`m from Ranchi, did you know? My sister`s inlaws are from Jamshedpur. And we have some relatives there too! Small world! πŸ™‚ I have pretty fond memories of pujo too Smitha. What a truly happy post this is!

  17. Pingback: Memories of Durga Puja.. Β« Any Excuse to Write… «

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  19. It saddened me deeply when I heard that later, some idols were given features of Bollywood stars
    WTF?! 😯 gawd thats like the heights!

    The main side attraction would be all the gol-gappas , chats, egg rolls, which even my majorly hygiene conscious mother would not object too much to, during the puja days.
    oh yeaaaaa… πŸ˜€ reminds me of the days i used to hang out with one of my friends. her colony used to have many pandals with erected statues (that too absolutely gorgeous ones) of durga … and of course the chaat stalls were out of this world!! yummy!

    So for most Malayalis I knew, it used to be heaven. No studying. For me, it was a torture.
    whaaaat?? man, as kids we used to SO look fwd to this day… to do anything but study!!!

    No plans yet for durga puja here… might have family visiting us…
    plus of course the traditional keeping books for puja… or in my case, my laptop πŸ™‚ thats my work-skill based item now! how life changes!

  20. u know for me the most treasured day is ashtami where we would go from house to house for kanjaks and then collect loads of money and goodies by the end of day and have a party with that πŸ˜€

    You know – I have never done this. I think Tara also mentioned it. We have so many different ways of celebrating, don’t we πŸ™‚

    nice post smitha

    Thanks Monika.

  21. Nostalgia… πŸ™‚

    helped me understanding how the fun was during Dusshera in Bengal Smitha… πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    In Tamilnadu, important day is 9th one which we celebrate as Saraswathi/Ayudha pooja… πŸ™‚

  22. GOSH! So many awesome memories of ur Durga Puja days at Jamshedpur Smithu!!!!

    I am so so so jealous!!! All that food! Spicy chaaat! Giant wheels and meeting class mates and comparing how may pandals u visited! Its sounds so …. Malgudi days!!!!!

    They gave idols features of movie stars??!! πŸ‘Ώ geeeeez!!!
    Prasad and bhog!!!!! Tell me about it! It just tastes.. well.. divine! πŸ˜› I wid run around the temple several rounds to stand in queue to get Prasad.. eat it, take a round again and stand for more πŸ˜† our trips to temples when I was a kid was longer than it is now πŸ˜›

    Smithu? HUGS!!! Me too suffered on days I had to keep books away! The study books were ok, but imagine on a holiday, no reading!!!! How much else can one do??!!! Sheesh!!! πŸ˜€

    Hope ur celebrations there go well Smithu! *sooper tight hugs*

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