It is that time of the year again when Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s MahishashurMardinireplaces the jarring noise from the alarm clock in every Bengali household. It is that time of the year again when the streets of Kolkata are flooded by waves of people. It is that time of year again, when chicken Kathi Rolls, Mutton Biriyani, Luchi-Mangsho become the staple diet of us bongs. It is that time of the year again when everyone dresses up in ‘notun jama’ (new dresses) and goes pandal-hopping in Kolkata. There is nothing quite like Kolkata Durga Puja. For us Bongs, Pujo is not just another festival or a tradition. It is the biggest highlight of our social calendars. It is the event we look forward to throughout the year. It is madness, it is fervor, it is passion, it is love.
Nothing beats celebrating Durga Puja in Kolkata. The city is at its prettiest right now and stepping into Kolkata during this time of the year will make your heart sing.
But there are some selected few who don’t get to be in Kolkata to celebrate Durga Puja for varied reasons. For us unlucky Bongs all we do is miss and feel miserable and try to make the best of what we have.
We unlucky Bengalis who are deprived of our precious right to be in the City of Joy to celebrate our beloved festival have our coping mechanisms to deal with the disaster that strikes us. Here’s how we deal.
1.Fight the Pujo Blues
We tend to be gloomy and confine ourselves to our place of work or college. We refuse to acknowledge the festivities going on around us. For us, Pujo means Kolkata and anywhere else is simply not good enough.
2. Stalk Our Kolkata Friends on Social Media
We stalk and stalk and stalk some more. We experience Pujo through their eyes. We see them posting pictures at various pandals and curse our unlucky stars. The green-eyed monster takes over and the pain is evident on our part.
3. Callback Repetitively to Check if Pujo is Still fun
We call back home innumerable times to check up If our absence has dimmed the brightness of Durga Pujo, even a little. The answer is always an astounding no. If we are unlucky this year’s Pujo celebrations are even better than last year’s.
4. Try to embrace the Pujo away from Kolkata/Bengal
When we are tired of being gloomy and miserable, we finally step out and try to experience ‘Puja’ wherever it is we are. It doesn’t even come close to what defines ‘pujo’ for us. We look at everything with judgemental mind and hate everyone and everything. We spend more time explaining it to others that they are doing ‘Pujo’ wrong.
5. Miss The F0od So Bad
By now, we start missing all those delicious delicacies like Kathi roll, luchi-mangsho, mutton biryani, mishgtipolao, chop, ghugni, our beloved phuchka and so much more. The list is endless. We miss all of it so bad. We go hog on whatever knockoffs we can get our hands on but nothing truly comes close to our favorite foods. And, our love for Puja Bhog only makes the situation difficult for our taste buds.
6. Visit Pujo Pandals Virtually on Bengali News Channels
Since we can’t physically be in Kolkata to celebrate pujo this year, we stay hooked to all news channels and try to be virtually present at our favorite Pujo Pandals. Be it the famous adda at our beloved Maddox Square or the picturesque themed Pujo pandals of Suruchi Sangha, Badamtala Ashar Sangha, Jodhpur Park, we miss it all!!!!
7. Cry Not So Secretly
By the time Ashtami rolls in and we have been deprived of our precious mishit pulao, aloor dom and pahyesh, we hit rock bottom. NO amount of Puja pandals or food in other cities come close to our ‘Para r Pujo Pandalerbhog’. We miss the ‘adda’, the ‘jhaari-mara’, the ‘saree-pora’. We love it, we miss it. We try hard for it.
8. We Throw The Caution to The Wind and Fly Back Home
By Nabami we can‘t take it anymore!! WE NEED TO GET BACK HOME!!! So if you are just like me, throw caution to the wind, bunk those college classes and take the next flight out. Trust me it is time to cash in on those medical leaves!!! Run!! Run for your life!! Run for your sanity!! Run for your beloved Kolkata Durga Puja!! Grab that bag and run!!!!