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.
HOW DID YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEW FESTIVE DRESS?