Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shubho Nabo Borsho

Not the very apt time to write about the quintessential 'Pujo' of Bengalis but with 'Poila Boishakh' (Bengali New Year) coming up tomorrow, I have suddenly started feeling very 'Bengali'!!! This, in a world where we are so cosmopolitan! In fact, coming to think of it, tell any Mumbaikar that he lives in a Maharashtrian city or any resident of Bangalore that he lives in a Kannada one and s/he will take immediate offence. S/he will immediately launch in a tirade of how high the pot-purri of cultual mix exists, of the wide roads, the night-life, the wi-fi and the wide and diverse set of people that inhabit the cities.

But then, there are those cities that are far away from the techno-babble (and bubble); that are rooted deep in their identity as a non-cosmopolitan, traditionalist city that takes pride in being just the way it is. Kolkata (or Calcutta as I have always called it, inspite of the fact that the Bengali pronunciation is Kolkata) is one such city.

I have not lived in this city for an extended period of time. A visit for a few weeks every alternate year was just about, more than enough for me - I always found the life there very slow and laid back compared to the fast life in Mumbai. But the true way to explore a city is by staying there on your own and I was given the opportunity to do so during my post-graduate internship with ITC. The two months that I spent there alone, without my immediate or extended family, taught me a lot about the city, its hues and cultures, its people and most importantly, changed my perception about the city.

Calcutta has deep passions, cheerful chaos, utter contempt for commerce and fiery responses to the smallest provocation. And at the same time, it has the love for culture, arts, intellect; it is bare in all its emotions - it is humane and exudes warmth and comfort. It truly is the City of Joy in many ways! We define most cities by the infrastructural / financial / cosmopolitan outlook and growth but Calcutta is one place which is defined by its people.

And this is where the 'Pujo' comes in... and it so much more than just worship! Calcutta immerses in the joy of celebration, of artistic expression and the brightness of colours and music of the 'dhaks'... the 'fragrance' of fried fish, the 'shidur khela', the 'Anjali', the competition between pandaals to see which is better, the riot of colours... The 'Pujo' is simply a celebration of life, for the City of Joy.

I was told that the city would grow on me. And guess what, it did. Without knowing, it quietly stepped into my heart and won over my soul!!!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. ive always had a special place for West Bengal in my heart... may be its because it has so much in common with my state, Kerala..
    but pujo or puja as we call it here is celebrated in other states too right??

  3. Same to you!
    We celebrate it as Vishu,as you might be knowing!

  4. hey happy new year mate :)

    i feel the way Calcutta evokes memories and passion in its dwellers is unmatched within the country :)

    ppl out there are too fond of their culture and tradition and the best part is tjey have carried to all parts where ever they gotta go and live :)

  5. Happy New Year!!!

    never been to Kolkatta... but wud love to be there once at least. Every yr during Navratri, Durga Pujo, I make it a point to go to the Congress Bhavan in Pune, just to see the glamour and glitterati of the pandals. Their festive mood is very infectious! And boy! are they decked up for the occassion. I can surely vouch for their excitement n exhuberance!

  6. DD,

    LOL after reading Sambar of '69. I agree Kolkata is a city of it's own standing and does reach out to you. I have visited it a couple of times and liked what I saw.

    Take care

  7. wow.. in kerla ita vishu and here its pujo :)) so how do you say? Happy Pujo or some thing ??

  8. Shubho nabo barsho to u too and we have Baisakhi here in Punjab today. the harvest festival..

  9. Happy New Year...Though I m not a bengali,but came to know from some friends today morning:-) Enjoy!

  10. @ Rahul Viswanath / eye-in-the-sty : Thanks!

    @ Amal Bose : Yes... atleast the two glaring commonality are fish and the red flag!!! but again, both Malayalam and Bengali are rated the sweetest of Indian languages... Pujo is celebrated in other states as well - Durga has many forms - Sherawali in Navratri for example. Do read the wiki link on Pujo for more.

    @ Meera : Yes. Vishu Ashamsagal to you as well... !

    @ Sam : Thanks! Very true... I always carry a bit of Calcutta with me where ever I go.

    @ PURN!MA : Thanks gurl... yeah, the glitz and colours and music are all infectious.

    @ ki : :)

    @ Jack : Yes it is... it grown on you...

    @ Scattered Thoughts : You say - 'Shubho Nabo Borosho' which means Happy New Year (or literally translated it is Auspicious New Year'.... For Durga Pujo, we say 'Shubho Bijoya'

    @ яノςんム : Happy Baisakhi to you too

    @ akanksha : Thanks!!!

  11. every pinch of soil tells about a tradition unforgotten. Shubho nabo barsho :)may this year bring you peace and prosperity.

  12. The bangla-phile in me loved this post:D
    and I also love to call it Calcutta :))
    Shubho Nabo Borsho:))

  13. Loved the post.... for too many reason,mainly for one reason that even i lov tat place, its culture n ppl, n hw they follow eve the smallest ritual nomater wher they r... its so sweet na..

    When i went ther 1st i hated the crowd, the chaos n every other thing.Bt few dayz stay ther made me lov the place.. nd ofcourse the fud..

  14. Shubho Nobo Borsho Tomakeo!!!! :) AWESOME Blog As Usual Once Again!!! U r one Heck of a Talented person!!! :)

  15. Shubho Nabo Borsho ! Loved the sentiments ...

  16. nice post - shubho nabo borsho!
    I have loved the city. I was myself planning on writing about this city. Its a treasured city!! :)

  17. shubho noboborsho to you too :)
    but i have a slight problem with your post-Calcutta is extremely cosmopolitan too.maybe not in terms of high class IT brains but it is home for the largest Marwari community in India (after Rajasthan,ofcourse) and to the innumerable people from UP and Bihar who are undoubtedly the best Phuchka makers :)
    but yes,inspite of all the influx,the city has retained its deep rooted individuality.
    nice post and i hope you dont take this as an argument.i just wanted to point this out

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  19. just dropping by to wish you a happy new year, am getting used to different new years in India :D

  20. I have posted about Vishu in one of my blogs.
    Feel free to visit.

  21. Belated Subho Nobo Borsho ...

    Well u bring in a different facet to kolkata but for outside bongs ...err what r they called ..Probashi or something :P ..Kolkata is not such a nice place u know for various reason ....

    But then It's U and it's me...ain't it ...
    Nice post :)
    btw didn't know u were a bong :O

  22. I had Bengali food for Bengali New Year..waited for a seat in a tiny hotel in near egmore in chennai. Fish Pur, or something like that, is what i had...

  23. I have never been to this beautiful city, but your post sure will make me go now :)