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”

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Tarpan Vidhi Part-2 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ২

As promised on my blog’s Facebook page – The Big Bong Theory, this is the second part of the three parts of the digitally restored notes from my maternal grandfather in law – Mr Dilip Kumar De’s (Dadu’s) diary about the “Tarpan Vidhi”.

Read the first part here and the third 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. Read till the end to know more about the remarkable man.

তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব -২

৫/ দিব্য পিতৃতর্পণ

দক্ষিণ দিকে ঘুরিয়া বসিতে হইবে। কোষাকুষি ও জলপূর্ণ পাত্র সামনে রাখিতে হইবে। জলপূর্ণ পাত্রে কৃষ্ণতিল ও তুলসী সর্বদা রাখিতে হইবে। জল ফেলিবার জন্য খালি পাত্রটি পাশে রাখিতে হইবে। একটি আলাদা পাত্রে তুলসীপাতা ও আর একটি পাত্রে কৃষ্ণতিল রাখিতে হইবে, যখন জলপূর্ণ পাত্রের তিল ও তুলসী কমিয়া যাইবে, তখন পুনরায় উহাতে মিশাইতে হইবে।

বাম হাঁটু মাটিতে পাতিয়া ও দক্ষিণ হাঁটু তুলিয়া বসিতে হইবে। পিতৃতীর্থ দ্বারা – অর্থাৎ, কোষাটি জলপূর্ণ করিয়া দক্ষিণ হস্তের তর্জনী ও অঙ্গুষ্ঠের মূল প্রদেশ দ্বারা ধারন করিয়া, এক এক অঞ্জলি জল নিম্নলিখিত প্রতিটি মন্ত্রের সঙ্গে খালি পাত্রে ফেলিতে হইবে। লক্ষ্য রাখিতে হইবে, প্রতিবার অঞ্জলি দেওয়ার সময় যেন জলপূর্ণ পাত্র হইতে কিছু তিল ও তুলসীপাতা কোষায় আসে।

Continue reading “Tarpan Vidhi Part-2 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ২”

Tarpan Vidhi Part-1 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ১

Recently, I stumbled upon a family heirloom tucked away in glory inside my mother in law’s belongings. My paternal grandfather in law, late Mr. Biman Behari Ray, had once asked my maternal grandfather in law, later Mr Dilip Kumar De (Dadu) to write down the details of “Tarpan Vidhi” – the ritual of offering water to ancestors on the occasion of Mahalaya, the beginning of Devipaksha, according to the Hindu calendar. Dadu had given him a handwritten diary with all the details mentioned with his usual precision. I do not know if such an admirable and erudite piece about our gradually forgotten traditions is available online or not. At least I have not come across one. So this Mahalaya, just as we begin to celebrate the spirit of Durga Puja, I, his eldest granddaughter in law, intend to pay a tribute to  a scholarly man in this very small way.

As promised on my blog’s Facebook page – “The Big Bong Theory“, this is the first of the three parts of the digitally restored notes from Dadu’s diary about the “Tarpan Vidhi”.  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. Read till the end to know more about the remarkable man.

Read the second part here and the third part here.

তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ১

১/ আবাহন

দক্ষিণে মুখ করিয়ে কম্বলাসনে বসিতে হইবে। সামনে কোষাকুষি থাকিবে, তার সামনে একটি খালি পাত্র, এবং ডান দিকে ১টি বা ২টি জলে ভর্তি পাত্র থাকিবে। দুইবার মন্তপাঠ সহ আচমন করিতে হইবে।

আচমন করিবার বিধি

কোষায় জল ও তুলসীপাতা থাকিবে; বাম হস্তে কুষি ধরিয়ে সামান্য জল ডান হাতের তালুতে লইতে হইবে, ও তাহা দ্বারা আচমন করিতে হইবে। আচমন করিয়া জল খালি পাত্রে ফেলিতে হইবে। আচমন করিবার সময় “নমোঃ বিষ্ণু, নমোঃ বিষ্ণু, নমোঃ বিষ্ণু” বলিতে হয়।

Continue reading “Tarpan Vidhi Part-1 / তর্পণ বিধি পর্ব – ১”

#HomeKahon – The story of my Indian Home

The story of designing my first home from scratch.

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They always talk about first love, but rarely in our documented history do we prefer talking about our other firsts?

The first job, the first salary, first car, first home….

You may call me severely materialistic, but all these hold a very special place in my heart, just like my first “Aam Panna” I shared with my husband, the first story that got published or the first ‘Phuchka’ that I had in Calcutta after returning from Europe after a year and a half.

Designing and making a ‘home’ out of a ‘house’ is always a challenge, especially if it is your ‘first’ one. You want it to be special and unique. My wishes were no different. I was a never a big ‘home decor’ enthusiast.

In fact, I often scorned at my mother who would scold me or my sister at the very sight of us sluggisly sitting on the sofa and squishing away her cushions. I was always the lethargic kid (“lyadhkhor”) as they call in colloquial Bengali), who loved her sleep.

Continue reading “#HomeKahon – The story of my Indian Home”

Of cities, short stories and memories of a lifetime – Paris

Prologue:

Every city has a tale to tell of her own. Some are rather bland, some colloquial enough to hold your attention, some refuse to leave your mind long after its all over and some are just timeless…just like Waheeda Rehman. I cannot imagine any city to be a man. In my mind every city is distinctly a woman – with a scent of her own.

Continue reading “Of cities, short stories and memories of a lifetime – Paris”

Durga Pujo to a Calcuttan- Connotations, religious and beyond!

The very first thing every year I do after I get hold of the calendar (the Roman and the Bengali one, both) is to check the Durga Pujo dates. You may call it a habit, a glimpse of joy or a routine…anything. But I am sure that I am not the only one. Bengalis are by birth emotional and the degree attached to my idiosyncrasies is wee bit more. I am the kind who would cry silently in the bathroom after watching a few pictures of my city getting all decked up for Durga pujo on Facebook and then walk out perfectly happy and sane after thinking about the ‘to do’s in a ‘Probashi pujo’.

Frankly speaking, this is not the first time that I am away from home during Durga pujo, the significance of which in the life of an ordinary Calcuttan (and by that I mean all Calcuttans!) can be only understood by visiting the city during the time of the festival. I have heard many comparisons about Durga pujo being almost like Ganesh Chaturthi in Bombay, Hyderabad or Pune or for that matter internationally the Rio Carnival in Brazil. Amongt these I have experienced only the Hyderabadi celebrations and so I may not be qualified to comment but deep down inside, as girl growing up in a South Calcutta neighbourhood where pujo meant the excitement of discussing plans about decoration of the pandal and collecting funds way before the celebrations started, I know that Durga pujo in a Calcuttan’s life cannnot be substituted.

My ‘parar’ Durga Puja. The neighbourhood Puja – one that spells ‘home’. (My own click)

I have no qualms in admitting that Durga pujo for me and for many like me who grew up in Calcutta had connotations beyond being just a religious festival. And there lies the spirit and warmth which makes pujo so unique. I have seen, in Hyderabad for instance, that only people who follow a particular faith as mine, Hinduism, participating in the celebrations for Ganesh Chaturthi and during the day of Visarjan a curfew is often imposed in the old city area just to avert any chances of communal tension. And to think that we Calcuttans mark the beginning of our Durga pujo itinerary by making a mandatory visit to Arsalan and by devouring the mutton biriyani! It’s a pilgrimage, just like the chelo kabab or the prawn cocktail in Peter Cat or Mocambo. And of course the bhog that is served during the pujo days in the neighbourhood. Perhaps the only vegetarian fare which seems tasty to the tongue to the Calcuttan foodie 🙂 Durga pujo is as important for gastronomical delights to be explored as hopping through the makeshift wonders which dot the cityscape for the 4 days. People visiting the city first time during the pujo often wonder that so much of creativity and thought has gone for the preparation…and that too just for 4 days. I think there are already reams of data available on the internent over how Durga pujo celebrations is almost a cottage industry in Bengal ( I am not making a point for Industrialisation in Bengal).

My friends often wonder how can we Bengalis, and also the Calcutta Marwaris, Gujaratis and Biharis, who have called Calcutta home for  a long time now and that includes many of my friends who subscribe to the tought “ghar mein veg bahar non veg” (eating vegetarian fare in the house and non vegetarian outside”), eat non vegetarian food during the time we are celebrating a religious festival. My answer to the often remains that it is the same fervour with which we devour the Biriyani in a neighbour’s house during Eid or eat the plum cake during Christmas. And if I miss out on the Langar food during Guruparab (also Balwant Singh’s dhaba food in Bhawanipore) it will be almost blasphemy and I will not be qualified enough to call myself a Calcuttan. Calcuttans are often called a ‘hujugey’ lot. One who go by the wave. What else will describe the city’s euphoria in descending upon Park Street on the 24th December night every year? There are numerous flipsides in attaching so much importance in celebrating every festival, but somewhere I feel that it attaches a non communal flavour to the city’s diaspora. And the Durga pujo is the biggest among them all. That explains the Councillor of my ward, who practises Islam, taking active interest in making the pujo a success and never missing out on the Ashatmi bhog. That also includes the Sardars who stay near Bhawanipore being an active support in all the pujo planning.

Yes, I pray every year…and piously give my Ashtami anjali, fasting for the first half for the day and planning where to eat in the night. That is in between popping two gelusil tablets (Bengalis and their acidity!) I make wishes before the Goddess and participate in the ‘Sondhi pujo’ where I see thousands gather to pay homage to the mother who saved mankind. The magical moment of celebration all women kind when the 108 lights bloom in full grandeur to express their gratitude to the power of a woman. That is religious for me, extremely religious. That moment often defines the understanding of me being a “Hindu”. A practitioner of the “sanatan dharma”. For me, it is not remotely related to anything including eating non vegetarian food, chowmein, carrying mobile phones, going to pubs and parties, wearing what I feel I look beautiful in, being confident about myself or being friends with people of other faiths or inviting them to share the Bhog.

Calcutta, I have heard and seen, is incrasingly becoming intolerant towards the fairer sex. A year ago also I could take pride in the fact that my city is one of the safest in India, not anymore. But Durga pujo every year gives me hope. A hope that the same people who put up posters about “praying in front of the Goddess” will learn a thing or two about how not to make snide remarks about a woman wearing something you find “sexy”  in the crowd. Let her enjoy the pandal hopping or the adda ta Maddox square just like you do. Or to jostle inside the Pujo pandal just to grope her. Interestingly, it is also the time of the year when a significant number of eve teasing cases are registered in Calcutta. I do not claim I have never faced any during Pujo.

This year, I will be celebrating pujo in a faraway land. I will attend Germany’s biggest Durga pujo and one of Europe’s biggest pujo, in Cologne. I am looking forward to the excitement here…very much palpable among the ‘probashis’. The cultural program, the arrangements, the self cooked bhog….but deep down inside I know I will miss the crowds, the lights, the chant from the balcony while welcoming the daughter when she comes home a day before “shoshti”- “Thakur eshe geche” (“Look the deity has arrived”) and the spirit that is called Calcutta.

Pujo, for us Calcuttans, will always remain a celebration of life- food, friends, adda, nostalgia and planning for the next year 🙂

“Ashche bochchor abar hobe”

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? 😀