MY Durga puja–The day of Navami.

22050156_1114926778639975_6817962515181536509_nYesterday was the day of Navami of Durga puja. Milon Mancha hired an A/C Bus with 20 seater for us. Experienced and knowledgeable Members , Rudra Mondal and Amalendu Sil, took the responsibility, made necessary plan and arranged the puja parikrama for Navami puja. As per previous communication, we all assembled at the flat of Shri Rudra Mondal, located at the most posh area of Mumbai that is Andheri West sathbangla, at around  4.00 pm. Duly equipped with water bottle, some snacks etc we 20 boarded the bus for our puja parikrama, it started at 5.00 in the evening. Initially, the Program was till midnight.

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Then Gradually we covered Ramkrishna Mission at Khar, Chembur, Vashi, Mulund, Andheri, Juhu, Lokhandwala to do the pandal hopping. I Can not incorporate more details of the tour in the interest of brevity. Of course, the previous day on astami, also we visited some of the same places and we enjoyed nicely. This day of Navami, was another good day, this time more number of people were with us. What is important is that people from different walks of life , many of them enormously successful,  joined us. Usually, among my friend circle I am known to be talkative, always delivering lectures. Here, people were so much more knowledgeable than me that I kept listening to them throughout for fear of exposing my lack of knowledge. This kept me engaged all through, and the knowledge flowed like water only in one direction –from higher level to lower level. There were models, Artist and singers.

The top of the icing as is  always, is Sri Rudra Mondal. He knows almost half of the people of Mumbai from all levels of successes, through his long connection, and dedicated social work. Credit goes to him that it was not visiting the Durga idols and pandals alone, it was a session of socialising with people also. They were people from various fields, some of them from the screens. Moreover, our journey was also enjoyable as members joined in chorus in singing during the journey.

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Journey was so absorbing, that there was no count of time, and suddenly I saw it was two pm in the night in my mobile phone. Thereafter, hurried up for the rest part of the journey. We saw Durga puja of Biswajit, Abhijit etc etc.

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My son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters joined us at Kollol Kalibari of Goregaon, and returned home at 5.00 in the morning. It was a wonderful experience. TODAY IS DASAMI, OUR WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR PUJA STARTS NOW. LONG LIVE MILON MANCHA AND ITS STALWARTS !!!!!!.

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This photo is not in the course of our pandal hopping. This is here because it made an appeal to me which I cannot ignore. THIS IS OUR VILLAGE FOLK LOVE AND ADORE DURGA MAA.
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My Durga puja

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Today is Navami of Durgapuja, last day for Durgapuja before Dasami , the day of Visarjan. In Mumbai Durga Puja is celebrated for four days—that is Saptami, astami, Navami and dasami as usual, unlike in Kolkata which is being celebrated right from the day dwitia this year.

But being a Bengali, puja is in the blood. Whoever you are, wherever you are, Durga puja will draw you out from your closet, even if you are a recluse. I responded to a call to do puja hopping by our family friends—Mangal choudhuri, Devashish Saha. These two friends are tremendously energetic and full of ideas, I was just happy to join them. Being in Mumbai for last 30 years, they are not less than any Mumbaikar, mastered the local  language Marathi.

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We –full group, started out at 12.00 in the noon.  First visited Chembur. Here image of Goddess Durga is beautiful. A large area is demarcated for Durga puja. A series of stalls are set at one side , some were advertising goods made by big business houses, some were selling their own products, some were from service oriented companies. When we reached there pushpanjali was going on, a huge crowd gathered in front of the image , to offer pushpanjali. We could not join in the pushpanjali, as we had to move other pandals.

Then we, the whole group, reached Vasi. The Marquee where Devi is housed, is a big and impressive one. Organisers appeared to consist of very influensive people, spent a huge sum of money on arranging the whole show. It is really a grand show. For Bengalees, it is just not an occasion for worshipping the demon killer, Durga; it is also a celebration of their culture where all sides of life come up for celebration. Spends all their money on buying garments, decorating home, buying foods etc. Here there was an arrangement of community feeding. Anybody who were present on the site of puja served food. We also ate the food given to us. It was quite tasty.

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Next, we moved through several places like Airoli, Mulund, Juhu, Lokhandawala, Ramkrishna Mission. Every place we saw Durga pratima, many not less than excellent piece of work. Pratima of Biswaji—an old day filmstar, and Abhijit—a famous singer, are excellent.

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We returned from puja hopping at one in the night with a new experience. Thanks to Mangal choudhuri, and Devashish for arranging the puja parikrama.

TOWARDS MAKING TRAVELLING EASIER

Our tour becomes more effective when we have more information beforehand, about the place we want to tour. Information is always deficient when we need. We become wiser only at the end of each tour when we already have spent all time, money and energy. To avoid such bad-end each time, Milon Mancha is trying to compile information, record those, and make available to all tour loving people.

 

To illustrate above, if I am not mistaken –Shri Rudra Mandal and Sharmista Mandal discovered swiss pass/Oyester Pass, Youth hostel etc etc only towards the end of their recent tour of Europe. The former greatly reduces the travelling expenditure, latter reduces expenditure due to food and lodging. Had they known these expenditure-saving ways, at the beginning of their tour when they left Indian shore, this would enable them to see more places with the same money – that too more comfortably.

 

For quite some time, effort of Milon Mancha has been towards collection of such information in the interest of all tour loving people, so that at minimum cost they can visit more places without unnecessarily tiring themselves in shortest of time—it may be inside India or outside.

 

This is a tall order if we want to make at one go, but small and easy job if we add up individual small information – in bits and pieces, based on experience. It may be you or your friend, or your friend’s friend — anybody. Everyone is welcome. People really have the required information, but as of now lying wildly scattered , our job is only compilation.

 

All information need not be proven immediately, because in the course of discussion if anything is inadvertently wrong, those will automatically be cleansed. But it requires participation of many in this face book page. PARTICIPATION IS THE KEY WORD HERE. Now, friend, start with yourself, share your experience.

TV compromises reality–packages and sells

There are limitations in our expressions. All that we can feel, cannot speak; all whatever we speak, cannot write down on a piece of paper. I have been dying to share a feeling with friends, but I was struggling with myself to find the handle of the issue so that I can firmly catch hold of it, otherwise, how could I transfer to others? Until I share I won’t get peace of mind. Finding out the handle of the problem means half of it is already done. Therefore, I have re-appeared before you.

Through watching TV [other than information and education channels],  in a very subtle way we lose contact with reality, virtuality takes over the reality. By this we forget to live our life as God has given us, instead, we start living a non-real life forced down the throat by TV. In this living we may have pomp, but this living does not touch our soul i.e. we are no longer living our own life.

Without wasting any more word, I would  recall a joke. A wife on serving food to her husband, asks him how was the taste of food cooked by her, husband replied as not good. This made wife to comment that same food got one hundred ‘like’s in her face book since that morning, now she wonders how her husband could be dissatisfied. This is only a joke but this has become a widespread behavioral pattern in society.

The misplaced focus is on how food looks, rather than how it tastes in your taste buds and nourishes health. Here Packaging is important –not the content, otherwise, you won’t get the first prize.  Our TV ,except a few information channels, sells such priorities, right into your drawing/ bed room, in a similar yet forceful way. It influences, slowly but surely, that always you should care for packaging , even at the cost of content .

Often there are programs based on love because it sells well on TV, involving young men and women, and married couples. This programs often show us what is ideal  love, and how to be happy with it. Each participants are made to tell their own  story  . It is clear that participants prepare those stories just for TV viewers– possibly encouraged by anchors, so that they sound good and  look nice on TV, and the effect is a lasting effect, on the audience. Young audience who watches this are influenced, and unconsciously takes it as a model behaviour for future in their own life.….. In real life they get the shock because solutions handed out by TV do not work in real life, because story as finally presented to them was not a real one.

I have seen couples who repeatedly post their photographs in social net working sites—frequently changing poses, postures, dresses,   to convey to their friends that they are happiest, just  next to Laila-Majnu. My point is that if you are a happy couple, it is fine and it should be that way only, God bless you for your whole life; why you require to get constant certificate of appreciation and approval from your friends  for a very private and a sacred matter like love between couples. Too much display of your marital love in public takes away the intrinsic strength of it, weakens it.

This sort of artificial behaviour destroys the real love , especially by public display of marital ones, undoubtedly this is an influence of television. Summarily I do not reject TV, there are many good sides like information channels, education channels, but there are this damaging side also which is corrupting our souls which is central to our existence.

MAHALAYA AND TARPAN

Today is the sought after day of Mahalaya. Every Bengalee wherever they are, they wait year round for this day because this signals that Durga puja has ultimately  arrived, countdown has started. Mahalaya marks the beginning of the ‘ Devipaksha’, and the end of ‘Pitripaksha’. The traditional six day countdown to Mahasaptami starts from Mahalaya when Goddess starts her journey from Kailash, the abode of her husband, for the earth, her parental home where she will stay for next four days—sasthi, saptami, astami, Navami; and on dasami she lives us for her husband’s abode.

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Pitri paksha is a 16 day period during which Hindus pay homage to their ancestors. As per legend, when Karna died in the epic Mahabharata his soul reached heaven, there he was offered jewellery as food.  Baffled, Karna asked Indra for the reason of this treatment. Indra told him that because of the fact that he never donated food to his ancestors in shraddhas during his life time, he was  getting such treatment. Karna said that he was unaware of his ancestors and hence he had no chance of offering food to them. At this, he was given a chance to make amends. He returned to earth for a 16 day period and performed Shraddha, and donated food to his ancestors. This period henceforth is known as pitri-paksh. Goddess Durga begins her journey towards earth on the day of Mahalaya, the last day of pitri-paksha i.e. on the first day of Devi-paksha.

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The ritual of Tarpan—On this day men throng to the banks of river Ganga, clad in dhotis to offer prayer to their dead relatives and fore-fathers. People in the pre-dawn hours pray for their demised relatives and take holy dips in the Ganges. This ritual is known as Tarpan. By performing tarpan, the deceased ancestors’ souls not only get satisfied and leave us, but they also bestow long life, radiance, superior intellect ,wealth, success on the host performing the tarpan and satisfies him too.

 Method of performing Tarpan ‘Tarpan’ should be performed at the riverside. While performing Tarpan at the riverside, one should stand in the river so that the water level touches the belly button or one should perform tarpan by sitting on the banks of the river. A dried grass twig  is necessary for performing tarpan, tarpan for deceased ancestors’ souls should be performed from the tip and root of the two grass twigs.

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Offering of water (tarpan) to deities should be done using the finger tips, while offering of water to Sages should be done from the base of the little finger and the third finger, and that to the deceased ancestors’ souls should be done through the mid of the thumb and the first finger of the hand.

Tarpan should be performed taking one handful (anjali) of water for each deity, two handful of water for Sages and three handful of water for deceased ancestors’ souls. In case of matrutrayi (mother, grandmother and great grandmother) three handful of water should be used and for other female ancestors’ souls one handful of water should be used for tarpan.

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The foods which are usually offered to the ancestors are cooked in silver or copper vessels and are served on banana leaves. The foods may vary but it must include rice, dal, kheer, and certain vegetables. The performer of Shraddha should wear a dhoti. The pinda-daan are made bare-chested. Then a cow and a dog are also fed. After this Brahmins are offered food. After all these are done, the family members dine.

Chandi path by Birendra Krishna Bhadra ( 1905—1991)—Apart from rituals, without chandi-path Mahalaya is not complete for a Bengalee.  Birendra krishna Bhadra reads from chandi, describing how Durga killed Asura, who as per mythological story were disturbing Gods in heaven, even Gods were not able to defeat him. Ultimately Goddess Durga defeated the demons, restored heaven to Gods.  Durga puja is a remembrance to that.

Mahalaya was first broadcast in 1930 over radio  when AIR came into being for the first time. The programme was organised by Premankur Atorthi, Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Nipendra Krishna Mukhopadpadhya and Raichand Boral. It was broadcast live then. His all important voice, manner of rendition and devotion is favourite to Bengalees. I will go to the extent to say that you can’t find a Bengalee who has not heard him or do not like his rendition of chandi-path. He died in 1991, but his voice is eternal. He has produced a rare masterpiece.

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In this field he was, and is, the ultimate, no alternative exists.  Once it was tried by the AIR to replace him—perhaps to break his monopoly by the AIR authority, but all Bengalees summarily rejected. It was a misadventure of the AIR authority. In the new rendition, Bengal’s popular cinema star, Uttam Kumar,  was got to recite Mahalaya and  Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhya was the music director. Lata Mangeshkar also had a little contribution. Here Uttam kumar, otherwise a favourite hero, was not accepted. People of Bengal became furious and there was a stream of phone calls complaining to the AIR authority because of this uncalled for change. AIR got frightened, hugely apologised, immediately made the amends, then Birendra krishna’s recorded rendition was played more than once. After this AIR authority did not repeat the mistake, and perhaps won’t  do it ever.Voice of Birendra Kishna Bhadra, enthralls the listeners in the pre-dawn hours of Mahalaya even today.

The script was written by Bani Kumar, music was directed by Pankaj Kumar Mallik while  Dijen Mukhopadhya, Manobendra Mukhopadhya (Tabo Achinta….), Sandhya Mukhopadhya, Arati Mukhopadhya, Utpala Sen, Shyamal Mitra and Supriti Ghosh lent their voice. Mahalaya’s chandi-path and Birendra Krishna Bhadra, are synonymous, the two can never be separated in the psyche of Bengalees.

Onam, the state festival of Kerala

India is a land of festival, the season  starts from Ganesh Puja, this moves through Id, Onam, Durga puja/Navaratri, Diwali, X-Mas, and then the celebration of new year. All around there is a holiday mood, people take leave from office off and on. Businesses in the country are also in top-gear in buying and selling activities. It is the month of September, and time to celebrate Onam.

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About Onam, it is the state festival of Kerala, it is a harvest festival, and celebrated in Kerala, and wherever keralites go and settle i.e., virtually all over the world. Historically, It is believed that Onam celebrations started during the Sangam Period. Record of celebrations can be found from the time of Kulasekhara Perumals (800 AD). At that time Onam celebrations would continue for a month.

It being a harvesting season, the beautiful state of Kerala turns into its magnificent best. Weather is pleasantly sunny and warm calling for mirth and celebrations. Fields look brilliant as they glow with golden paddy grains. It is also the boom time of fruits and flowers. After the month of deprivation, Karkidakam (last month of Malayalam Calendar), farmers are happy with a bountiful harvest and celebrate the festival to the hilt.

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Myself a bengali, in my long association with Keralites, I have seen that Keralites are honest, culturally rich, educated, industrious, talented, linguistically skilful, and overall, tremendously adaptable to local condition wherever they go. This made them successful. It is no wonder that they are quite a many in my village too, living with a closely knit community of their own, mutually helping each other to grow together. The bickering that we see in other communities, is much less in them.

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. The festival of Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali,  in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September. Onam lasts for ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. The biggest and the most happening day in the carnival of Onam is Thiruonam. Festivities begin as early as 4 am. People clean up their house, take early bath, wear new clothes and perform elaborate prayers to seek divine blessings. A massive and most exquisite pookalam is prepared on this day to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali.

Highpoint of the day is the enormous lunch called Onasadya. People of Kerala are extremely passionate about this. Even if they cannot easily afford, they will anyhow prepare the meal inclusive of all the 11-13 prescribed dishes. This has led to the saying in Malayalam, “Kanam Vittu Onam Unnanam” which means, “We should have the Thiruonam lunch even if we have to sell all our properties”.

Activities, Events and Recreation

There are a lot of activities that takes place all over the state on Onam. Pulikali performers paint themselves in the guise of a tiger and enact hunting scenes to entertain people. Kummattikali artists don an attire of plaited grass and big wooden mask. They move from house to house collecting small gifts and amusing children.

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At Thrissur, caparisoned elephants move out in a procession and present a regal view. While at Cheruthuruthy, Kathakali artists cast a spell on the audience with the magic of their performance. Women perform their graceful traditional clap dance, Kaikotikalli on the day and enthrall the audience. Vallamkali, the popular snake boat race is also organised in several parts of the state to mark the day.

Number of sports and games events are also organised on the day. These are collectively called Onakalikal. Some of them are rigorous sports like Talappanthukali, Kutukutu and combats like Kayyankali and Attakalam. Archery is also a part of Onakalikal.

Senior members have their share of fun by playing indoor games like cards and chess. There is also a tradition of swinging on Onam. A decorated swing is swung on a high branch and young men and women take the pleasure on it while singing traditional songs…………..

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Onam has an economic dimension in it also.  A lot of Keralites living in foreign countries are mostly financially successful people, they have spreaded their culture far and wide. Kerala is gifted with nature’s bounty, and tourism department of Kerala, has successfully sold its tourism to the world.  With this rich and colourful background, it is naturally a dream place to visit, so with this background, Keralits and non-Keralits including foreigners visit Kerala, Onam is a golden opportunity for them. Government of India rightly celebrates ‘Tourist Week’ for Kerala during Onam. As in future tourism will go a long way to solve India’s unemployment problem, Kerala will be in much more focus.

THE MAGIC OF MUSIC

Music is my favorite pastime, I enjoy it a lot. It can take away  your pain, depression and whatever bad mood you may be into. When you are bleeding in the conflicts of life and nobody around to put a balm , then, dear friend, if you resort to music, instantly your worries/ anxieties will go off. It is because it has the capacity to change the state of your mind. Minus music you are in sad state, plus music you are in  the elevated state of mind.

Unfortunate people who use drug, do that just to change the state of mind—of course negatively, to a sate where they feel ecstasy, but problem with drug is that it exhausts physically, and mentally, the individual at the end of it. Music does the same in a divine way but without damaging your system, rather it elevates you and fulfills you and unify you with the universe. When you listen to music your brain releases a hormone dopamine and this gives you a feel good factor. Music has relation to every state of mind. By singing and listening to the music you reach those states of mind effortlessly. In Indian music, there are many ragas, each raga arouse certain emotions.

You might be still remembering the lullaby sung to you by your grand parents—you may remember the tune, rhythm of lullaby took you to dream and sent you to sleep. [ please listen to one of your favourite lullaby–

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL2q4ZT92J0&list=PLD74AB3350B027A2F&index=6] .

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgXvQUdIrXA.

3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5HGEnD5ibQ

These lullabies are common to all the mankind for all epochs. Music connects your within to without. It can create and destroy your fear, love, anger and pain. Our films employ this effectively  to transport you to the scenes  and content they want to create, those supplement their actual action in the films. This is a proof to show that music can change your emotions—to verify my contention, please listen to your favourite songs when you are depressed, or down.

Although some of music comes naturally to us, but to reap the maximum benefit out of it, one has to be trained in childhood, on classical music. It is necessary because it raises the intellect, and empowers the mind. Research has shown that  the part of music which caters to mathematical skill, also caters to music. I had seen a friend of mine would put radio on full volume when he would solve the tricky maths problem.  I do not remember the name of the Indian American who came on a national channel one year back, to show how the musical rhythm is entirely based on mathematics.

By listening to music our inner self communicate  to the vast nature outside. When a rivulet murmurs, wind blows, leaves rustles, those creates very pleasant sounds—music for us. These sounds are music, the nature’s music, created for us. By listening to those sounds , from the enclosure of your room, we can transport ourselves silently to those open wide nature where those sounds are created. This is the power of music.

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Voyager –I and II, a twin satellite took off for its journey from our earth in the year 1977, carried in it, among other musics of the world, an Indian classical music in a golden disc, for the beings living in other parts of this universe. [ take a side step to listen to it–India, raga, “Jaat Kahan Ho,” sung by Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar. 3:30–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz5cvGaNr2c%5D. Now Voyager has already travelled 35 years, crossed our solar system, and for the first time in human history  entered interstelar space. I wonder  when those unknown beings will hear our classical songs , how much they will enjoy it !!!.  I feel perhaps that their music and our music is one and the same. At the time of writing this article the voyager is at a distance of –10,696,240,000 miles away from earth…..

At the beginning of the creation, whole  universe was an one big whole empty space, there were gas and gas only—entire space was filled with  mono-atomic hydrogen atoms.  Sometime thereafter, through stellar reaction, and supernova explosion, there are now many galaxies, stars, and planets , and ultimately us. Thus, if we follow the trail we  will know that whole universe is one and the same body, the individual beings in this world or other,  are a small constituent of this big universe with unaltered character. If this is true the music we know cannot be different from the music my brother is practicing in the far far part of this universe, in other stars, planets. In this hope only music of this world is carried by voyager to our distant friends.

Thus music is eternal and all encompassing. Music removes our weaknesses, empowers us, makes us happy. Hence can bring can peace on strife stricken, terrorized earth. Teach children classical music , this will increase their talent, help them to grow into a well round personality.

NB– Actually I like many, many songs. When I am off mood, I just close the door of my small room to create deep darkness and set on a classical song/ tabla, I enjoy then a serene peace in the heart deep down. You may also try this method of mine–darkness has an enchanting beauty of its own. Only a few of my songs which I like to relax with are–

Bansh baganer mathar upar chad uteche oi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HyX4wh297U
Bajlo tumar alor benu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6h6k2dK-NI
Man tarapata hari darashana ko aaj https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyLdgQinxpY
 A song by my son , Anirban chakraborty, in tamil , published officially by producer T-series in youtube, which has crossed one million viewership by now.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZJrAM1NoYg ( see below)