Vishwakarma – the curtain-raiser (Picture source)
With today’s Viswakarma Puja, the season of puja starts. This morning, as I go to local bazaar to replenish weekly stock of fish, vegetables and fruits, I come across scores of roadside pujas with blaring loudspeakers belting out latest Hindi film hits. Our para’s cycle-rickshaw pullers celebrate one such and they’re already over with offerings to deity early morning.
Sunday is the day they earn most. So the mandatory priest-conducted rituals being done with, they cannot let go their earnings for the day. Come evening, and then the real celebration will take place with impromptu jigs accompanied by sumptuous dinner and liberal dose of cheap liquor.
For everyone, including those who habitually look down upon roadside celebrations, Viswakarma Puja marks the beginning of long puja spell that ends with Kali Puja. But the enthusiasm is clearly muted. Not many kites fly in the sky, and my childhood memories of full-throated bhooo katt ttaa seem a distant dream. The younger lot does not much care. They have other priorities to look after and Viswakarma Puja is not among them.
Today is also the last day of ‘inauspicious’ Bengali month Bhadro. Many traditional families observe Anna Puja on this day when the house is cleaned and food made a day earlier is eaten. The coming month Aswin is a new beginning to welcome the homecoming of Durga with her children and the festive spirit becomes all too apparent.
Shop-owners will see a surge in buying, people will start new activities, and houses will get a touch of freshness, though much of all that escape the needs of city-dwellers. As the cycle of festivities comes upon us yet again, it is time to partake in them and pick up small moments of joy and happiness to be stored forever in the chest of sweet memories.
NB: I find this year-old blog-post, Indian festival of geekery, an interesting reading.