Picture Courtesy : Andy Ghosh
Orange, red, yellow… the variegated fall colors lighted up our Durga Pujo with the thrill of the soft chilly wind. Kolkata Tilottama was sound asleep on chaturthi when we gathered at the community hall of Andover High School to celebrate Wichita Bengali association’s 25th Durga Pujo on 17th of October.
And here comes my customary warning : if you are expecting a report of the two day event, please visit the site of Prothom Alo who covered it. This post is a diorama of the personal experience of a girl, who with her ‘tourist-visa’ never felt like an outsider.
My second warning : lots will be left out, moments and emotions for they need a different canvas, a novel perhaps, someday!!
With two-days to fit in all the rituals and spare some time to indulge in some cultural function, the organizers of the event spent months to make the pujo a memorable one. I have been there the last year and the love I got from everyone brought me here this year too. My amazement took a new turn when didi cajoled me into dancing. Yeah, dancing!! She dragged the lazy writer from her cozy couch and got her in the whirlpool of dance making her fall in love with the gestures, the body movements and tricking her into appreciating an art she never knew. While didi choreographed the dances of the cultural function, I playfully wrote a script and this time, got a bigger gang for our drama : Duggabari Duggabari : Grandchildren special. September witnessed a thorough rehearsal of dance and drama because that’s what we could think of pujo : delectable Bangali food, adda and some aesthetic pleasure. But Wichita Durga Pujo always comes with surprises, something which goes beyond my imagination. This time was no exception. The thought of being with my family, dada, didi, Baakyo , my parents overjoyed me. The bonds I formed with dada didi’s friends added to the excitement but missing friends, people of my age was somewhat crawling up to me. Durga Pujo is a festival of joy, of happiness, when people give gifts to the loved ones. As I was having lunch with my “friends”, people of my age, people of my frequency, giggling, laughing and chattering endlessly, I thanked the Mother of all: Devi Durga for creating an environment for new people to come in my life. Never ever did I imagine that students of WSU will become my friends, crack jokes and give me a space in their group. Keeping my ‘faculty’s kid sister’ tag, I indulged in being myself and the circle was complete. Family and friends: that’s what Durga Pujo stands for, that’s what Wichita Durga Pujo 2015 gave me.
Instead of going into a details of ‘what I did in the Durga Pujo’ , I would rather talk about moments. And people? Perhaps they deserve a better place than the blogpost. In our ”
Wichita barir pujo” as I call it, all of us gathered, helping out in arrangements in ways we could. Be it cutting fruits or serving food, we were there, sharing a joke or a caring glance. Nobody was an outsider in the community. And nationality? Ah!! Who cares! We are a mixed bag of Bangalis from India and Bangladesh and of course people like senile Patricia, married to a Bangali and adroit in making some amazing Bangali food, including the mishti doi recreates the notion of ‘Bangaliyana’, an ethos which filled the environment of the Durga Pujo.
The cultural function offered us a mirror where we discovered ourselves, me evolving as an anchor, understanding my responsibilities and also the mood of the audience. The evening of 17th October sparkled in the mellifluous voice of Debasri Mitra who refurbished our childhood days by singing songs of Mahalaya and a lot of Rabindrasangeet and folklore, creating a Kolkata in our very own Wichita. Samratda’s songs of “dhaker taley komor doley” added spice to the platter as we danced like there’s no tomorrow. Debanjanda’s song added a different color to function and this spirit of festivity and happiness was carried forward by the intoxicating rhythm of the “dhaak” and the dhunuchi naach.
The second day, 18th October rendered a testimony to the diligence of the dance and drama team. It started with my drama as the crazy me played football on stage while my co-actors , didi ( Lipilekha Dutta), Kallol, Moonmoondi, Srirupa di and Deepakda delivered an exemplrary performance, doing poetic justice to my script and direction with just a few rounds of rehearsal. And then came the dance performance which won the hearts of many. My didi, Lipilekha Dutta choreographed it which she named as ” Banglar Riturup” ( the various seasons of Bengal), placing songs of each season, which were performed by didi, Priyankadi, Richa-Sabrina , Deboleena , Jayeeta. The dance performance ended with our group dance to the song ” ahoroho tobo ahobhan procharito ” as didi, Moonmoondi, Lipidi, Deboleena and yes, finally , the non dancer me got carried away by the passion and rhythm and danced, offering our respect to our motherland and Devi Durga, who stood amidst all of us, composing lyrics of our future ahead.
The Durga Pujo ended with my first ‘sindur khela’ where Lipi di and others dragged the spinster me, adding the colors of blushing red to my virgin cheeks. With an empty hand I went to the Durga Pujo and all I have now is an ocean of memories which keep me alive when the moon seems to be a prince of a distant land. I write with maturity now, growing as a person, learning each new day from the people I met, from the people who became friends. A blogpost of Wichita Bengali community Durga Pujo becomes incomplete without the mention of Andy Ghosh, who, apart from helping the decorations played the pivotal part in capturing the moments with his lens. So many of us would not have our pujo dps without him. Always cheerful, he took photographs without complaining and his pictures create a diorama of the Durga Pujo.
The organizers, Mithu di, Mukul di, Sen Sharma Uncle, Ghosh Hazra uncle , Deepak uncle , Ruma di , Patricia, Sumita di and others deserve special mention along with Kaberi di , Priyanka di and others who created the delicious meals for us . Knowing some wonderful people like Uddipan da has been a pleasure. In the care and love of dada, didi, Baakyo, I smiled in a vibrant aura, an aura which bloomed in new colors like the new friendships which saw the light of the day on the auspicious day of Durga Pujo. From a simple ‘hi-hello’ to ‘please guys you have to come for my cultural function tomorrow’, the conversations went on and on. Koushik, Shanta, Madhuprana, Parthib and Jack : you guys made my pujo complete. You filled up the voids in the fall colors, giving me a space to be myself. I would not say a formal ” thanks” . All I can is tell the whole world through my writings how special the Pujo has been.