“Elish Mach”, “Mohon Bagan”, “rice 3 times a day”, “absolutely seductive big walnut eyes” and Durga Pujo”- you are totally with a Bengoli or in Bengol. I may reluctantly agree that the taste of Bengoli food, the beauty of Bengoli women and the dumbness of Bengoli men may be overrated but when it comes to Durga pujo, festivities knows no limits. This is one time of the season when, a Bengoli soul, no matter is working in Kenya or Quatar will run back to Kolkatta.
I am a half bong and been born and bought up far away from Kolkatta and Bengoli culture, in a very urban family but one thing that used to mesmerize me during this festival is the color, the glamor and the unity amongst Bengalis.
When I was small child, my daddy was posted in Chennai and I was staying alone with my mum in a pretty big house and we both being deadly scared of ghosts used to sleep as early as 9PM and wake up by 7AM when all the remote possibilities of encountering a ghosts is lost. I being a sleep lover since I don’t know when waking up in the morning was always a tiresome job for me except for that one day when it seemed like Goodness is really coming to earth in the holy hours of the morning. This is the day of Mahalaya, a scared chant done by an absolutely adorable poet Birandra Krishna Bharada whose voice still sounds so alive even in the recording played today, ages after his death.
This is one mystical chant which makes every bong in every corner of this planet feel connected to one god, one life and one strong community. Today almost 12 years later I live alone in an apartment 2200 Km away from family and relatives (Thank god still in the same country), in an unknown land of having more bad than good people around but still this one chant today makes me feel so connected to my genes and my language which I rarely speak these days except when I am talking to my dad and sometime mom.
The Big Eyes:
There is a big myth around Bengalis and big eyes. People have written poetries and songs around the big bengoli eyes but the scientific reason goes missing.
Well, I agree Bengali women are usually very pretty (with exceptions like me) and they have these signature big eyes to add on to their beauty. But what I believe, the actually fact behind the big eyes is something very different and exclusive. The Big Bengoli eyes are applicable only during the pujos when men and women equally gets awestruck by the elegance of “Mother Durga” and is so mesmerised by her beauty that their eyes becomes wide and big in reverence.
I mean have you ever noticed the eyes of the Durga sculpture ( In northern India, kolkatta and Jamshedpur or pure Bengoli samities in other cities) It is invariably same in all the sculptures and it radiates so much of power and strength and warmth at the same time.
Honestly if you are a big fan of big eyes, trust me your search ends there.
The “Probashi Bangali”
‘Probashi Bangali’ is a unique term mostly used for people like me, who are Bengolies but have been living far far away from Bengal since ages. They speak Hindi without an accent and they can distinguish between gender and they “drink” water and not “eat” it. [If you have never had a bengoli friend from kolkatta you will never know how to ‘eat water’. It is a very elegant process, and you have to have a bong friend to learn that art.]
Probashi bengolies eat scrambled eggs for breakfast and regular thali for lunch and shockingly roties for dinner. They do love fish equally but fails to have it every day firstly because cooking is such a pain and secondly there is no place where fish is sold like salt but in Bengol.
Now what is the deal with Probaschi Bengolies?
These are the kind of Bengolies who will never marry another Bengoli, mostly because work takes them to all the places except Bengol, and secondly they get so habitual to the fast food metro life, going back to the bong basics becomes a challenge for them. These people are fans of white sauce pasta, marry another white sauce pasta fan and have kids who eventually learns only about white sauce pasta.
However no matter how much white sauce pasta these people love. No matter which big consulting firm they are working for. The paid salvery they might be running for big American banks in return for a seven figure salary, a SUV and a big sea facing bunglow, Durga Pujo is a time when you will see that big financial consultant putting away her Versace dress for a white saree with red border. You will see her applying khol to those big beautiful eyes and look like one goodness all prepared to welcome the other universal one.
The entire aura about it is beyond the power of words to do justice. It is one thing where seeing is not believing, rather feeling is believing.