1 February 2017

Saraswati Puja


During my childhood days, Saraswati Puja was the second most happiest day of the year because on that day I did not have to open my books and study. The first most happiest day of the year used to be my birthday. We Bongs consider it to be a sin to study on the day of Saraswati Puja. 

During my childhood days, we used to celebrate Saraswati Puja at our house. On the previous night we used to go to Jadavpur to buy a Saraswati idol. Only after rejecting almost a dozen idols, my father used to finally select the perfect one. We used to decorate the room where the Puja was to take place with ribbons and with rings made out of colourful crepe paper. In the above picture you can see me and my brother during Saraswati Puja at our house years back. 

On the morning of Saraswati Puja, our books used to be kept at the feet of Maa Saraswati. There was no need to study and do any homework. The priest used to come on time to perform the Puja. We also used to have the ritual of haatey-khori on this day. Once the Puja started, we had to sit quietly. I used to wait eagerly for the Puja to get over as quickly as possible because I badly wanted to eat those delicious and yummilicious sweets. Right from my childhood days till now I have a fascination for sweets. I really have a massive sweet tooth. These days however we do not organize Saraswati Puja at our house anymore. Maybe if I get married and have a child then I will once again start celebrating Saraswati Puja at our house. 

Saraswati Puja is actually Bong's original Valentine's Day. On this day young girls dressed mostly in yellow sarees and green blouses, with flowers tucked in their hair, go to their respective schools/colleges to participate in the Puja and offer pushpanjali. From there they meet up with their boyfriends or would-be boyfriends or friends-with-benefits or future-husbands and go to parks, malls, cinema halls, restaurants and other places to hang out together. They also make it a point to visit their respective singing or dancing or painting classes at some point on this day. On this day youngsters enjoy complete freedom. They are totally free to roam around with their friends. Parents and Society do not impose restrictions on youngsters on this day. In Bengal, we Bongs are lucky to have two Valentine's Days - 14th February and Saraswati Puja!

I once went to Bagbazar Multi Purpose School to meet up with a girl on Saraswati Puja. From there we came to Park Street for lunch and then went to Eliot Park and we roamed throughout the park hand in hand. I was wearing a panjabi and she was obviously wearing a saree.

Another time on Saraswati Puja I went to meet up with another girl in front of Menoka Cinema and from there we went to Rabindra Sarobar Lake and roamed throughout the area hand in hand and then I brought her to my home at Lake Gardens and smooched her badly like there was no tomorrow!

Another time on Saraswati Puja I went to meet another girl at Golpark to see the Saraswati Puja in her building. From there we also went to see the Puja at Ekdalia. Then we both went to the Calcutta Book Fair and spent the whole day there.

The Calcutta Book Fair traditionally starts on the last Wednesday of January and ends on the second Sunday of February. The chill is still in the air and the weather is pleasant and romantic. Usually the Bengali Valentine's Day (Saraswati Puja) falls during the Book Fair. Its so nice to see young couples roaming hand in hand throughout the fair ground. Boys wearing kurtas and jeans. Girls wearing yellow sarees with green blouses and with flowers tucked in their hair. The smell of love is in the air. These days however more than the smell of love, the smell of Kamasutra deodorant is stronger! 

Last year as I was gallivanting at the Book Fair, I saw people around me with eyes full of yesterdays. Even my own eyes were full of the jpeg, png and gif images of yesterdays. As I saw couples walking hand in hand, I remembered past Book Fairs where I used to do the same thing with my girlfriends. Being in love is the greatest feeling on earth. Last year I was remembering the 2005 Book Fair. That year I also used to roam in the Maidan Book Fair hand in hand with my then girlfriend. We were madly in love with each other and our bodies were virtually inseparable most of the time. She was five years older than me and I was then in first year of College at St. Xavier's. That year France was the Theme Country. The French had constructed a replica of the Glass-Pyramid from the Louvre Museum. I really liked it. It looked beautiful from the outside but inside the Pyramid it was suffocating. The same thing is true about my relationships with women. From the outside everything seems beautiful and lovey-dovey, but after a certain point of time from the inside I generally start feeling suffocated!

Anyways Saraswati Puja is a great festival for children and teenagers. Nobody forces the children to study on this day and that makes them very happy. The teenagers get their first sweet taste of freedom on this day and that makes them very happy too.

Clubs in every locality celebrate Saraswati Puja. Most families in that locality take part in this Club Puja. The prasad comprising of khichudi, labda, sweets and other items are a big attraction. Sit and Draw competitions are organised for children of that locality. In the evening musical concerts are arranged where the local talent could be put on display. 

Today on Saraswati Puja I went to the Book Fair. I reached there around 2 p.m. and stayed there till around 8 p.m. I met most of my friends there. Had a great adda with them. Bought Kabir Suman's latest book 'Sumanami' from Saptarshi Publishers. Also took the subscription of Hangla Magazine for two years for just 1800 bucks. They also gave me a standing-fan as a gift. It was a great deal. I really loved this deal. Today I also accidentally bumped into quite a few girls at the Book Fair who are there in my Facebook friend list. It was so nice to meet them face to face for the first time. Had a nice chat with them. In the afternoon Kabir Suman's songs were playing in the loudspeakers throughout the ground. It was so nice to hear those songs as I was roaming throughout the Milan Mela Prangan. I also had a great time at the Little Magazine Pavilion. Saw one of my ex-girlfriends there. Our eyes met a few times but we did not talk to each other. I felt like going over to her and felt like talking to her but my stupid damn ego stopped me in my steps...      



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