The Saraswati Puja of Bhandaridah (from late 1980s)

I noticed on my “Google Calendar” that today is Vasant Panchmi.

And I am getting so out of touch that I only remembered the name of this festival but I didnt remember what it is celebrated for. (yeah I hate to admit, but that is the truth)
So I googled again and opened up wikipedia:-

Vasant Panchami (Devnagari:वसन्त पञ्चमी), sometimes referred to as Basant Panchami or Shree Panchami (Devnagari:श्रीपञ्चमी), is aHindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Indian month Magh (January-February), the first day of spring.

And when I saw “Saraswati Puja” – I was like wow!! That was one of the most celebrated festivals we used to have in Bhandaridah in late 1980s. How can I forget that?
I pinged my wife and here is the exact conversation that followed-
[ me ] :
[wifey]: i know
[wifey]: i used to wear yellow maxi on this day
[wifey]: when i was kid
[wifey]: it was v pretty dress
[wifey]: 🙂
[wifey]: when is it?
[ me ] : today
[wifey]: oh
[wifey]: how do u know
[wifey]: do u celebrate ?
[ me ] : in bhandaridah saraswati puja was a big thing
[wifey]: hmmm
[ me ] : bachcha log used to take chanda from mohalla mohalla
[wifey]: 🙂
[ me ] : in our home – papa will easily give 10-20 rs
[wifey]: for me it was eating yellow things like tehri and wearing yellow clothes
[ me ] : mom will give 2 rs
[wifey]: 🙂
[ me ] : and so much bargaining mom will do
[ me ] : aunty 2 rupaye mein kya hoga
[ me ] : 2 rupaye bohot hai
[wifey]: 🙂
[ me ] : some regular bachcha log knew – (they were actually our old neighbours bhaiya log – babli bhaiya, etc)
[ me ] : they will ask me – vishu, papa hain kya?
[ me ] : achcha nahin hai – humlog baad mein aayenge
[wifey]: hmmm
[ me ] : then there will be small pandals in each mohalla of bhandariday
[ me ] : it will be holiday in school
[ me ] : so me & Amit will go each & every pandal and eat prasad
[ me ] : joined by other school friends
You can see just a simple mention of this festival caused both of us to start telling our own stories!! 🙂
I was thinking to myself it is amazing how important were these days in our life – but now we are not even aware that today is vasant panchmi / saraswati puja.
I wondered if 20 years from now same thing will happen – things which are absolutely dear to us now will become totally irrelevant 20 years from now?
It made me more nostalgic and I took the last arrow from my “tarkash” wikimapia/google maps – and zoomed in on Bhandaridah.
I zoomed in / zoomed out with awe – wondering if it’s still the same!?
I promised myself (yet once again, for the thousandth time) – that I will go back to visit this place, which is absolutely close to my heart.
I made a new promise to myself that not only will I go, but I will go there regularly – like every year or so!!!!!
To top it all – I made final promise to myself that when I retire, I will settle down at this place – on the bank of Damodar river – in a nice little cottage and spend last days of my life there. (which I think is not even possible, all the areas I know in Bhandaridah is government owned or politicians affected!) .. btw that reminded of the dialogue from Swades “apne hi pani mein pighal jaana baraf ka muqaddar hota hai, samjha dena us chokre ko!” – roughly translates to it’s ice destiny to melt and mix on its own water 😀 (sorry for the poor translation)
:coughs: … finally I just snapped out of the dream and remembered I have to finish things and I pinged my wife again-
[ me ] : will talk to you later on this
[ me ] : need to get back to work
[wifey]: 🙂
…. and thus I came back to reality!!!

2 thoughts to “The Saraswati Puja of Bhandaridah (from late 1980s)”

  1. This is your best post so far in my opinion. Funny though, I and Radhika had a similar conversation just a few days back… about the need to retain the rituals of festivals other than a Holi, Diwali or Pongal in our family !

  2. Thanks Ashish 🙂 … I got too much appreciation on this post which I didn't anticipate!

    For me this was just another post – but coming direct dil se 🙂 I guess it touches the heart of everyone, as almost all of us are feeling the pain.

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