Feasting away the Bijoya Dashami blues at the Bandra Notun Palli Durga Puja

And it's time to say goodbye
 to Ma Durga and her kids

The last day of the Durga Pujas

The melancholy that hits us Bengalis on Bijoya Dashami, the last day of the Durga Pujas, would make Orhan Pamuk seem like Mary Poppins on steroids.

During my growing up years, the Durga Pujo was the one festival that we would look forward to all year long. We had (and still have) a puja in our apartment complex in Calcutta. It would be 5 days of fun and festivities, of no studies, of hanging around with friends, helping the grown ups with the organisation of the puja, taking part in the cultural festival and skits and songs, the odd building romance as we grew up, and of course serving food in the afternoon for the community lunch.

On Doshomi you knew that the fun was coming to an end and you tried to make the most of the day. The high point of doshomi in Kolkata was that the community lunch included mutton. Bishorjon (visarjan) would happen in the evening and we would come home deflated but bravely shouting "aashcche bochhor abar hobe" (she'll be back next year).

I've moved out of Kolkata years back and Mumbai has been home for more than a decade and a half and I am happy that I have found my parar pujo here too. 

The Bandra Notun Palli Pujo.

It's Doshomi today and I am smiling

Bishorjon preparation start at Bandra

I dropped in at the Bandra Pujo at lunch time today. The ladies were done with their shidoor khela and boron and it was time to eat before folks took off for the bishorjon.

The porters who will carry Ma Durga up and down the the trucks were fed first

The workers who would help lift the Goddess, local Maharashtrians I think going by their topis, were being fed first. They had a weighty duty on hand after all.

I saw that the bhog (community lunch) distribution had started and I decided to jump in and asked if any of the volunteers needed replacements.

Shanky, in the white shirt,
joining Souptikk (in the cap) and team in bhog bitoron


I was put on fulkopir torkari (cauliflower curry) serving duty.

Love serving bhog
Finally my pujo felt complete


Suddenly Ani, a collegian who earlier greeted me by calling me 'Kolyan Kaku' (uncle) and got scolded by me, asked if there was anyone willing to take on the khichuri duty. 

A new balti of khicuri had come and it was hot and steaming. 

'Not for amateurs', he said.

Khichuri...the star of bhog

I raised my hands and young Ani (Subhojit) gave me a khunti (ladle). Then, in all seriousness, he showed me how to balance an empty plate on the edge of the balti, and use the support of the rim of the vessel, before pouring out the khichuri onto the plate for serving those in the queue. 

He has got a wise head on his young shoulder but then he has grown up with this pujo after all.

I was so happy to be not only serving, but to be given the most important duty, that of serving khichuri, too. 

That's usually given to veterans.

Thrilled to have been given khichuri duties
Pic from Kaushik Saha's Facebook feed


You can check this Facebook Live video that Souptikk shot, while I served, to see how happy I was.


Bhog poribeshon (serving) over, I sat with those in the organising committee and we had our lunch. 



Chef Gobindo, who has been cooking in the Bandra Pujo
 for about 30 years. My favourite chef in the world

Kaushik in the blue tee shirt.
Smiling after coordinating milk supplies for the puja through night,
 and after getting more khichuri to be cooked in the afternoon,
on seeing the crowds so that noone went hungry

Finely Chopped reader, Arpita, who has grown up with the pujo
(thanks for the click Sunanda)
Kaushik Saha, the food committee captain for the last 30 years, and who has grown up with pujo over 40 years, gave us some special alu bhaja and beguni to reward us for our efforts.

Khichudi, alu bhaja, begun bhaja, beguni, fulkopir torkar, chutney, payesh
Last Bhog of Durga Puja 2016


The Notun Palli team then left for the bishorjon but I headed home as this khichuri deserved a ghoom (afternoon nap). 

I went up to our apartment and rang the bell. My hands were full as I was carrying back a plate of khichuri for my mother, just as I used to in my growing up days in Kolkata.

I was smelling of khichuri, my tee-shirt had curry stains and my jeans were smeared with chutney,

I was beaming with joy.

It finally felt like my pujo was complete.

Shubho Bijoya folks and wish you all loads of happiness.

A Shubo Bijoyo to you all
(That's Ani in the chequered shirt)


PS: You can come back to the Patwardhan Park Annexe Behind Theobroma on 15th October 2016. Lokkhi Pujo will be there in the evening and bhog will be served at 8.30 pm.

 Catch a snippet of today's bhog action here


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