Tarpan Vidhi Part-3 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ৩

This is the third and last part of the digitally restored notes from my maternal grandfather in law – Mr Dilip Kumar De’s (Dadu’s) diary about the “Tarpan Vidhi”. I had made a promise to myself and the few dedicated readers of my blog (on my blog’s Facebook page – The Big Bong Theory) that I will not let such a treasure that I had access to, by virtue of being Dadu’s eldest granddaughter in law.

This is actually my tribute to the man who epitomised brilliance, meticulous thinking and the charm of the now extinct, good old “Bangali Bhadralok”. Read till the end to know more about the remarkable man. As Devi Paksha approaches, I hope this is helpful for one and all. Shubho Mahlaya and a very Happy Durga Puja to all of you :).

Read the first part here and the second part here.

Typing down such difficult Bangla/Sanskrit on Avro Keyboard has been a tough job, but I will be happy if his work finds a global window and helps people. The digitalisation is not 100% perfect or correct. Apologies for any unintended errors. The remaining parts will be published soon.

তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব -৩

৯/ ভীষ্ম তর্পণ

ভীষ্ম তর্পণ নিত্য করিতে হয়না, কেবল ভীষ্মাষ্টমীর দিন কর্তব্য। পিতৃ তর্পণের পূর্বে ভীষ্ম তর্পণ করিতে হয়। পিতৃ তর্পণের মতনই একই দিকে, একই আসনে, পিতৃতীর্থে (কিন্তু বাম হাত দ্বারা ডান হাতের পেশী ধরিয়া) এক অঞ্জলি জল দিতে হইবে। মন্ত্র-

Continue reading “Tarpan Vidhi Part-3 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ৩”

Goynar Baksho-Why it is refreshingly new!

I watched Goynar Baksho today. Obviously! it’s poila boishakh tomorrow and since the urban bengali’s ‘bangaliana’ is tested by allegiance to two things nowadays- ‘durga pujo’ and ‘poila boishakh’..I could not resist catching the ‘noboborsho’ release with my family. Of course the trappings of the corporate life has made the bhodrolok celebrate new year a day earlier on Sunday since Monday will again be a busy day with impending client calls and meetings 🙂

These days Bengali films are nicely publicised and packaged. Goynar Baksho was no different. That coupled with the assurance of an Aparna Sen’s finesse was enough to guarantee the connoisseur Bengali a nice evening out. Needless to say, I was not completely disappointed.
‘Not completely’ since I went with my mom, dad, sister and my husband and the cumulative verdict was different. What I admire about every Sen movie till date is her adept portrayal of a subtle liberal/feminist approach which is sometimes unimaginable in the situations depicted. Goynar Baksho is no different. The story chronicles the journey of three generation of women of a family which traces its roots in erstwhile ‘purbobongo’. Set in the time when India had just gained her independence, this erstwhile wealthy landlord family from Faridpur had to transfer base to West Bengal and are shown as still getting accustomed with their now non existent ‘aristocratic’ habits.

 

Moushumi Chatterjee portrays the role of a child widow who vehemently guards her box of jewels…even after her death. She is worried about the fate her ‘500 vori’ jewel and entrusts the newly wed Konkona SenSharma with the responsibility of protecting her jewels. But she is not the benevolent image of the elderly ‘Pishima’ we get to see in the movies. Moushumi, as the abusive, venom spewing, strict taskmaster ‘pishima’ is a revelation. And that ‘bangal’ accent…this movie makes me realise that overtly beautiful women have often remain hugely underused in our cinema.

She threatens Konkona with dire consequences if she even thinks of touching her jewellery..including killing her husband. And what follows is mayhem. Hillarious picture sequences and characterisations make the first half an enjoyable watch.

The second half is the part where Sen leaves er mark again…albeit with the hilarity this movie is conceived with. Konkona, as a first generation entrepreneur..probably the first of the working women of our society sends a message and so does Pishima. ‘Pishima’s’ words of wisdom  about all that thoughts we have about sin, lust, benevolence is just a sham- is the high point of the movie. ‘First hand experience’ as she puts it. And there comes the fiery expression of suppressed sexuality and celebration of womenhood. Sen has a knack of portraying feminist discourses in the relationships you least expect. Be it the timid housewife in ‘Paroma’ or the mother in law and daughter in law relationship in ‘Paromitar Ekdin’…she finds the bond of being a women, a reason to celebrate.

The initial portrayal of Moushumi’s character makes you least expectant of the bond that a ghost will share with her daughter in law…but even more surprising is her words of encouragement for Konkona to pursue a love affair and not be trapped in a marriage where her husband can have a mistress but she cannot afford to have a male companion. The subtlety with which she points out the intellectual difference that she has with her husband, or her openness of Srabanti’s character smoking when the film shifts base in the 70’s is well scripted and portrayed.

To think that a women who belonged somewhere in 1920’s could have a mind which thinks and how, is definitely encouraging for a society which still tells it’s women to dress up properly or not to wear that short dress when you go clubbing. My juniors have recently faced the wrath of moral policing in Hyderabad and that has been the shoddiest of the shows ever. But Goynar Baksho gives me faith.

There are a lot more layers to the story which needs to be discussed, but I thought of writing this post to jot down these points since while coming out of the theatre my father expressed his disappointment and so did my mother. They expected the apparently carefree mood of the first half to continue. I disagreed. Thank you Sen for making this one…..because we need more of pishimas in our lives and in the society where we currently live in.

Go and watch. My husband does not watch many Bengali movies. But he for one enjoyed the movie, may not to the fullest but glad that he appreciated the subtext of characterisations. There lies the success of the storyteller. Shirshendu Babu, I have not read the original story..but after the portrayal, I will surely do so 🙂

Shubho Noboborsho 🙂

Letter from a forgotten land.

Dear Tara,

Hope you are doing well. How is that back pain of yours? I still suspect it’s Baater byatha (Arthritis). How is Girija Babu doing? Is his coughing bout under control nowadays. I asked Chattujey moshayi once about the problem. He advised that you visit the west once during Girija babu’s holidays. I think the pollution of Calcutta is not suiting him anymore. But what to do, after all he is the boro babu now, his responsibilities are greater now. How is Ashalata? Have you started looking for a groom for her? Is Girija Babu planning to send her to college and make a Judge? Bethune school won’t help her learn cooking and sewing. Nobody will marry her if she doesn’t know how to cook. Sometimes I wish you had a son. There is still time. Coax Girija Babu to have one more child atleast. People here laugh when they hear that you have only one daughter.
We are all doing well here. Sukhen’s marriage has been almost fixed with that girl from Barishal. I was very much against the match. But who listens to a widow? That too, one who is a burden on the families of her brothers. Tell me something Tara, couldn’t they find one suitable bride for Sukhen in the entire Dhaka zilla. As if boro bou wasn’t enough that another person from Barishal will come to pollute our family. Our ancestors didn’t joke when they said “Aaitey shaal, jaaitey shaal, tar nam Barishal“. This girl is also related to Borobou- some distant cousin. Now they will rein over the entire household together. All this at the cost of my youngest brother.
You remember the time when we were just nine and Gogon kaka had taken us to Barishal on that official trip of his. Remember how those crooks at the Goalonder ghat didn’t even let us have our meal properly? My god! I so loved Padmar Ilish. And those bastards shouted that our steamers were leaving. We ran for our lives only to find a it a hoax. How they cheated us. I had cursed them so much. I hated Barishal from that very day. Borobou just proved I was right.
You must be thinking that how can a widow of sixteen years still think about fish. I will not lie to you Tara. You are my best friend. I don’t get to see you often nowadays. But I share everything with you. You know I love the smell of fish. everyday in the morning I steal a walk upto the aamish henshel (non veg kitchen) just to smell the fish. It’s a secret I will die with. If any one here gets to know about it, they will tag me as woman of vices, but I can’t help it. It was only you whom I could trust with this secret of mine.
When do you again plan to visit Bharakar. I know you don’t like this shabby village anymore. But do come. Bring Asha along. I often think of making the aamer achar (mango pickle) that she so liked last time. Try to come during pujo. I am sending a bottle of a special medicated oil which I got from Chattujey moshayi for you. Hope it reaches you in the present state. Reply to this post soon.

Iti
Gouri

P.S. This post has personal anecdotes, anecdotes of forgotten times, memories of afternoon conversation with my Amma strewn all over. The factual background is entirely fictional but the conversations? Who knows, that might have happened some seventy five years back in a dimly lit Bharakar household.
P.P.S Bharkar is my ancestral village. It’s located in Dhaka, Bikrampur region. My house was located near Tongibari thana. Have never been there. But surely intend to visit it sometime. I have been to the Bharkar Sammilani Durga Pujo manytimes as a child. Don’t know if it happens till now. If any one of my readers are from my village or knows anybody or has visited that pujo, kindly leave a note. It’s a way of remembering Amma, whom I was suddenly thinking about.
By the way, I belong to the De Sarkar (we later dropped the Sarkar from our surname) family from Bharakar who had defated the Zamindars (the Mullicks, I suppose) in the Dhaka Court in a dispute over a Dighi (large waterbody). I have hear numerous stories about how my great grandfather, Late Satish Chandra De, who was attached with the Court of the District Judge at Alipore in Calcutta, took out a procession to celebrate the victory. So now you know where it all comes from? 😀

Delicacies from Purbo Bongo

I have been following quite a few food blogs off late. and am quite amazed at the kind of publicity that bengali cuisine gets on the world wide web with a very decent fan following (and that includes a tam iyer friend of mine who is just ga ga over chingri :P). But I do have an objection about the fact that whatever is being publicised as authentic “Bengali” cuisine (and i agree its one yummy effort) more or less consist of what we bangals (people traditionally from east bengal) prefer to call as ghoti (traditional west bengal) culinary delights. Needless to say am completely ga ga over that bit of aloo-poshto.

But the Bangal maiya (Dhaka-Bikrampur) in me cannot take that lying down. I quite enjoy the fact that we are tagged as the people who have earned it (jeebonsongram as they say). This post of mine is an effort to enlist out a few of my favourite dishes which belong exclusively to the Bangal kitchen. Bangal cooking in general is dominated by its prefernce for everything spicy and hot. I guess that’s were we have our outspoken origin and if a fellow rajasthani (mind it! they are known for their preference of the Laal mirch) called me a Teekhi Mirach for my now well known big mouth, I couldn’t agree more.
So here I go and I begin with the mouth watering- Shutki Maach. I guess many of the Bangals also cannot fathom this foul smelling fish while its being cooked in the neighbourhood. But once done, you can gorge on to this piece of culinary magic.
One remarkable thing is that while Ilish remains the favourite of Bengalis across the ghoti-bangal divide, the fish traditionally is ours i-e, we bangals. We associate it with our favourite football club and not too long ago when a certain sourav ganguly had not changed the statistics and demography of the Kolkata maidan and the sporting scene in general, east bengal supporters used to celebrate their victory (and that includes the famous 5 goals) by sending properly cooked ilish to the houses of their friends supporting mohunbagan. (its very true! my father has done it often. needless to say it was reciprocated with chingri when mohunbagan won against their traditional rivals). Football, food and matrimony still keeps the old ghoti-bangal rivalry alive. Ask me! am a true blue calcutta girl, but when it comes to food or football, i owe my allegiance to my bangal genes. about the other I have no prefernce, only that I won’t prefer eating sugar laden ghoti delicacies day in and day out. I want my share of spice 😉
But coming back to Ilish, the bhapa variety is well known and quite savoured among my non bengali friends but there is one style of cooking the ilish known only to us. and for those diet conscious people out there who want to have it the low calorie way can definitely try it out. the kalojeerey phoron-kancha lonka recipe which my mom turns into a delicacy that every time i go back home, I want more of it. By now, you must have understood I am a big foodie. In fact, I have lately realised food is the only thing that keeps me going!
Chitol macher muithha is another Bangal favourite, though I must admit ghotis also have taken a fascination for this dish in recent years. and I trust my didun to cook it absolutely amazingly. That’s one recipe I want to learn from her, because my mom also can’t make it that good.
Lotey mach (Loitya or Lotiya as you prefer to call it) has immense medical value. My father alwys emphasised that its necessary for a healthy eyesight…but I fondly think about the fish because of its Jhuri and chochchori varieties which only we are aware of. I sometime so pity those friends of mine who had only the luck to taste the jhol (the syrupy variety), tyaltyaley at that. Trust a true Bangal like me to suggest that itsno match for the other two varieties and add a bit of Lonka bata (mashed red chillies, if i can put it that way), voila! you are in culinary heaven!
And then coming to the eternal Bangal favourite kochu. yeah! the kochu which ghotis (all of them included, and most of them are not snobs) twitch their nose at. My vegetarian friends often complain that bengali cuisine doesn’t offer them the variety to choose from for their platter. I sincerely disagree with them. This year’s bong food festival was an eye openeer for some of them. But you can trust Bangals to make a thousand mouth watering vegetarian delicacies out of this lesser vegetable (evidently as ghotis still consider it to be some zombie from outer space-their loss!! missing out on something). From the coconut laden warmth of the kochu bata to the spicy tiltilation of the kohur koura, its heaven on earth…those who have tasted it, knows. and Kochur shaak is yummyy in both its vegetarian (when cooked with coconut and nuts) and non vegetarian (ilish macher matha diye) forms.
And about the Bata(mashed) variety of anything and everything possible on earth, trust Bangals to rustle up a storm. It might be the seemingly innocent cauliflower leave (kopipata), dhoney pata or the potatao peels (aloor khosha)…..trust any bangal to turn them into one spicy hot bongshell of a dish! 😛
and here i conclude the post, not because i ran out of fuel but because i am sincerely missing home cooked food now(pishimoni’s cooking!!!). but dont worry, i might just be back with a part 2 because picture abhi baaki hain mere dost. the world needs to know about the sweets!
p.s. whoever visits the blog, in case you are a bong, ghoti bangal nirbisheshey, atleast leave a comment on this piece, i sincerely want your opinion on this and a ghoti bangaler juddho on my blog won’t be a that bad idea after all. 😛
Also, if anyone wants to add to the list, you are most welcome to do so.