Sunday, September 20, 2009


Durga Puja was definitely THE MOST-ANTICIPATED TIME OF THE YEAR for us as far as new clothes were concerned. A new birthday dress or a new Poila Baisakh (New Year) dress notwithstanding, it was only before the Pujo that we received a bounty of new clothes to delight over.

One from Ma-Baba (parents), one from Mamabari (maternal grandparents), one from Chhotopishi (father’s sister), one from Jethun-Barama (father’s brother). Sometimes this list would be supplemented by sudden extras, as when an elder cousin or uncle would join a new job, or a newly married cousin would gift us a new dress. The more the merrier, for us.

The trend for ready-made garments not having set in during that time, we were usually given dress material (cut-pieces) which would have to be stitched into garments. This implied a double happiness and a prolonged period of excitement. The first joy would be on seeing the dress material itself. And then the elaborate planning of what the dress-design should be (the Planning Committee consisted of my mother and Didia, my cousin, with us being extremely-interested audience). And then the measurement-taking (either by Maa or by the neighbourhood tailor). And then the impatient waiting till delivery day. And then, of course, the excited tearing away of the plain brown-paper wrapping of the tailor and taking out and putting on the newly-stitched miracle. With a lot of preening and pirouetting before the mirror. Total indulgence in narcissistic self-love.

Those were busy days leading up to the Pujas. The dress schedule had to be meticulously planned – which outfit to wear on which day. The simpler cotton ones would be reserved for Sasthi and Saptami, and the fancier silk ones for the more glamorous occasions of Ashtami and Navami. If there was an excess of newness, then we would plan something different for the mornings and evenings, and maybe even for Dashami, the final day of the celebrations. The most-loved garment was always reserved for Ashtami evening. And that incomparable thrill and fever-pitch excitement of stepping out in a nice new outfit, proud and colourful as a peacock, and strutting to the local Puja pandal amidst the beats of the Dhaak (drums) and the smoke of the dhunuchi-naach (a dance performed with burning earthen pots) and the music blaring from the loudspeakers. With the assured confidence of childhood, we never doubted that we would be the cynosure of all eyes.



Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Your posts stir up so much memory ... The children of today wouldn't know that acquiring clothes could be such a long and exciting process.

Nice post, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Two festivals And The joy.

Holi - The festival of colors
- White Kurta-Pajama for the evening

And Durga Puja
- 2 New Shirt 2 New trouser for Ashtami & Navmi days.
I teach tailor about one plate trouser And back pocket design. Shirt double stitched etc. etc.

And a walk with friends.

The post written by you rewinding memories. Cheers !!!

Koi lauta de mere biti hue din...

Gayathri said...

Aaah!!! So much fuss about the birth of a dress..i can relate to it so well..
but here,durga puja aint of that importance in regard to new's the onam,vishu,deepavali..and the history is the same..someone gives the dress material well in advance,which is followed by a caressing and savoring for a couple of days..then the designing,checking up those magazines for new styles,..and then in a week's time the new dress in its full style n form is born!! Aah..readymade doesnt give u half the happiness..

Nazish Rahman said...

I liked that "Planning Committee"!! Durga Puja is a big grand festival and that too in Bengal. Oh i love the atmosphere of Durga Puja!!

Lady Hope said...

yaaaa i remember the fragrant aarti times at the community hall which we visited most years as kids in goregaon. these days it is a quick trip to the sarbijanin Durga Pooja at shivaji park. and then a stroll around the ground to pick up some artefacts and a Durga idol, those red and white bangles, and have an eyeful of the bengali sarees. this yr i plan to visit the music cd stall and pick up some baul music and something with the dhaak beats. can u recommend some . with my zero knowledge of bengali it will be a great help. looking for traditional tunes in dhaak and baul. my knowledge of baul is restricted to the ones seen in movies (the old ones - hindi and doordarshan zamaane ka regional films). but the roaming mendicant with that stringed musical instrumetn in his hand and the soulful strains are a deep rooted memory.

Kavi said...

Deepavali was the biggest time of the year for festive dresses !

And did we not go around town walking with beaming smile.

And wondering 'how on earth did he buy this' at the other chaps shirt..

Later being asked the same question by someone else !

Lazyani said...

Aah sweet memories!! But for me, it's an ongoing reality all around. The mad rush for new clothes all round, the rush for parlours and the preening on the actual days. The whole gamut is still there.

By the way I believe that some fairies do descend to earth on these days and vanish after dashami.

The Weekend Blogger said...

By the time I came along we were already into ready made dresses but the thrill of new clothes was always there. And the freedom to wear them everyday for almost a week during the remainder of the year our thrifty mothers zealously stored away our new clothes for "special occassions" which alas were a few and far between.

Mustaf said...

I have already mentioned in my post that how badly I used to miss these? What else can i say :(

Aparna said...

Sucharita, this post was so good that I decided to write one whole post. I loved the part about the dress. Going to the tailor with all the materials was such a thrill. And I can never forget about shopping for shoes, my one true passion. Even now, I buy a new pair for Puja. And I still remember the Puja my ma allowed me to buy a lipstick for the first time. I was 22!

♥ Braja said...

It's a rainy day in WBengal,and very quiet for the first day of Durga puja...i'm suspicious :)))

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks for sharing your plans for festival preening and prancing.

Koel said...

The excitement remains the same even to this day...the best dress being reserved for ashtami evening still holds good!!!