Durga Puja – Here and There

Durga Pratima Bisarjan - IIT Kharagpur Campus during the seventies.Few minutes ago an old friend of mine called to wish me for the upcoming Durga Puja festivals. He said, “It’s Mahasasthi in Kolkata today!” I wished him back, but it occurred to me that it’s Mahasashti everywhere, not only in Kolkata. When I reminded him, he laughed and said, “Yes indeed. But our Sasthi starts on coming Friday!” And he is absolutely right. Our Pujo in New Jersey (I am referring to the Kallol Durga Pujo which we both attend), starts on October 15th, Friday evening and that’s our Mahasasthi. The thought does give me some consolation that Pujo is yet to start and we have few more days to look forward too. But my friends and family in Kolkata have started enjoying their Pujo. They have started posting photos of their favorite idols on Facebook and Orkut, sending Pujo greetings through emails and expressing their joy and merriment. ETV Bangla is taking us through the streets of Kolkata and the online newspapers and magazines giving us day by day commentary of the Pujo happenings. And we cannot deny that this does cause a bit of a tinge in our hearts. Continue reading

Durga Puja 2010 : New Jersey Style

The time of the year is here again. The sky is blue with patches of white clouds floating lazily and the weather is cooling down. Durga Puja is here again in New Jersey. The local Bengali associations are gearing up to welcome Ma Durga with the usual pomp and cultural extravaganza, and let me share with you some information about the festivities that has come to my notice.

Like previous years, Durga Puja festival in New Jersey will be heralded in by the live Mahishashura Mardini (Mahalaya) performance  at the Ananda Mandir on October 10th at 5.00am in the morning. I have been a regular attendee at this event, and I can promise you that if you can take that bold step of getting up from bed that early and drive down to Ananda Mandir, you’ll have an experience that you will never regret. Continue reading

NJPA Kali Puja 2009

NJPA cordially invites you to celebrate Kali Puja on October 10th at CrossRoads Middle School.Puja will start at 3:00 PM which will be followed by Prasad and Dinner. Nirmalya Roy of Zee-TV, Tara TV, ETV, Saregama fame will present semi-calssical and ghazals and Moumita Chatterjee of Calcutta Door Darshan, ETV, Tara Music and aAkash Bangla Fame and will present variety songs,. For more information, please visit http://njpa.net.

New Jersey Durga Puja 2009 : A Review

Durga Protima Kallol of New JerseyFinally the annual Durga Puja celebrations are over. I was mostly present at the Kallol pujo but also paid (no pun intended) short visits at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha and Anandamandir. Kallol, just like the previous year, had a full house and had to turn away several people. In one of my previous blogs I had requested, rather wished, that Kallol provide a daily ticket for people who would like to come in for a day. However, for whatever reasons, Kallol decided on the contrary and the result was that I had to listen to complaints from several disappointed friends and family.  Well, rules are rules – that’s what I said.

This year I did something which I never did before. I dropped in on Thursday evening – and it was real fun. There was no pressure of showing the badge, no parking tags, no stress about reserving seats with shawls and jackets and no celebrities on stage to pay attention to. While the volunteers were busy setting up the idol and the kids busy rehearsing on the stage, I had a good time chatting with  friends. For once, after a long time, I had the pleasure of pure Pujo adda – completly unadultered fun. I think we should, at least informally, start the festivities from Thursday – just to prolong the enjoyment for few more hours. Continue reading

Durga Puja and Cultural Events: The 2009 New Jersey Lineup

Ujjaini MukherjeeIn New Jersey, Durga Puja is a special time when the festive mood brings with it a flurry of entertainment and cultural programs across the state. This year too the line up looks very promising although the spirits have dampened a bit due to the tough economic times and with the rejection of visas of few of the performers.  Still the combination of local talents and professionals from India is bound to enthrall the Puja attendees on the coming weekends.

I’ll try to briefly summarize the lineup this year, although the organizers have in many cases conveniently omitted the details about the local performers from their web sites. I tried to collect as much information I could manage. If any of you have more information, then please feel free to add them to this post as comments. Continue reading

Goat and the Bengali Intelligentsia

goat The intelligentsia (as defined by Wikipedia) is a social class of people engaged in complex mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture, encompassing intellectuals and social groups close to them.  You can very well attribute this term to the Bengali society who fits this definition quite well.  But what does a timid and herbivorous (although Bengalis think goats to be omnivorous – chhagole ki na khay) mammal like goat got to do with this elite group of people?  The answer to this is well known to all of us – Bengalis love goat meat. Although in other parts of the World, goat milk and milk products (cheese) are also extremely popular, but we the Bengalis don’t care much about the milk.  It is the meat that is most important to us – the ultimate food in any Bengali plate.  Historically, goat meat is the only kind of meat that Bengalis (especially the Hindu Bengalis) ate. Goats were the most popular offerings to Goddess Kali and Durga – and the meat then cooked in a recipe void of any garlic or onions and hence termed as “vegetarian meat”.

Continue reading

Durga Puja 2009 – Just a Month Away

Durga PujaBengali Associations of NJ are gearing up for the biggest festival of the year – Durga Puja. This year the festival starts quite early, around 25th-26th of September. Kallol, GSCA and Anandamandir will be celebrating their Durga Puja during that weekend.  And just like last year we should expect that the registration to start soon. GSCA has already opened their online registration, and Kallol is expected to open theirs in early September.

Last year (2008) was the first time when Kallol of NJ started their online pre-registration process and it caused quite a bit of furor amongst the Kallol regulars who failed to register early. The registration window was closed as soon as the guest count limit was reached and that left many people with a bad taste.  Some people were able to get in at the last moment (I don’t know how) but several people had to go back. I think Kallol needs to do something about this. Continue reading

Cartoon of the Week 6: The Pujo Entertainment


Pujor AddaEntertainment events are the major attractions of any Durga Puja festival. The Puja organizers spend thousands of dollars to get the most popular artistes from India as well as from the local talent pool. It is the star entertainers that pull in the crowd, and crowd brings in revenue. The popularity ratings of the entertainers define the success of a Durga Puja.
But is it true? If the stars and their entertainment was the only reason to attend a Puja festival, then why do we have to listen to the constant rumbling noise of numerous “adda” sessions that continue in the background? As the audio levels of the performers rise, so does the noise level. To many attendees (myself included) the main attraction of attending a Puja is the opportunity to meet friends and engage in endless “addas”. We have no ill feeling towards the performers, they can continue to do their job as long as they don’t disturb our “addas”. After all, it is them who made us decide which Puja to attend – but they cannot deny us our birth right to be able to talk, talk and talk for hours on. We will occasionally listen to one or two songs to give our tired jaw bones some rest, but soon we’ll get back to argue about who was the best performer of the song, and how this “hopeless” artist has ruined the song completely. We’ll lament the dearth of talent in Bengal and how we miss the golden days of Kishore and Hemanta-da, how the new generation of band music is destroying Bangla music and why one should ban artistes like Sumon and Nachiketa.

Sri Krishna Janmashtami at Ananda Mandir


Ananda Mandiis celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami on Sunday, August 24 From 6:00 AM to 9 :00 PM.

Sri Krishna Janmashtami Sunday, Aug 24, 2008 Extended Temple Hours 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

6:00 am –Mangal Aarati

6.30 am –Sri Krishna Sahasra Naam Path

7.30 am – 9.30 am –Nitya Puja

10.00 am -11.00 am –Srimad Bhagavad Path

3.00 pm – 6.30 pm –Bhajan Sandhya

7.00 pm - 8.30 pm –Janmashtami Puja & Aarati