Monday, February 2, 2009

Hi-Tech Saraswati Pujo

In this new e-age where young men & women live far from where they were born & brought-up it is expected that these people would like to hold on to their cherished childhood memories.

Saraswati Pujo or Swaraswati Puja is a very popular religious activity among Bengali’s. Any educational institute or any house with a family member still studying would like to have this performed at their place.
People also say that this is Bengali’s Valentines Day. Well it is spring & love is in the air. Girls dress up in traditional dresses & look cute. Guys get to meet the gals at the different Puja Pandals. The opportunity to meet without a “guardian” standing over your shoulder is usually not missed & …
But as always I had started deviating from what I had started this post with.

Last weekend when I was getting ready to take asylum at Srisailam, a friend of mine calls me up.
“Yes tell me”
“You are doing the Saraswati Pujo at our place next week”
“I cant do it”
“Give the phone to your apartment-mate”
30 seconds later my apartment-mate gives back the phone.
“What did u say?”
“I said Yes”
“Don’t…. I am not ready to think on this… Let the cyclone pass”

That was last Sunday. On Wednesday we are reminded that we are supposed to perform some rites. We realize my apartment-mate (henceforth referred to as The Priest) is going to perform the rites of the Pujo for the 1st time. He confirms my worst fears saying “I cant back out now”. On top of that we do not know any of the slokas’. We do not know any of the rites either. We decide we would google the next day or else we would ask some-one to courier us the study-material in time. Friday evening I am in office when suddenly my friend (henceforth is referred as The Client) calls up. I pick up the phone filled with apprehension.
“I have procured the Idol. Panchami is till 4:30 in the afternoon”
“ooh… ok”
I get back home & finally when my apartment-mate/the Priest returns we start discussing what to do. He calls up his father at 11:30 in the night & takes dictation of all the slokas. Please note he had taken the dictation in English.
Next day like any typical Saturday, we wake up late at 10:30, confident that we would be able to make it well ahead of the deadline of 4:30 to complete the rituals. Unfortunately the electrician comes to fit the fans, which has been lying on the drawing room floor for the past 2 months. We are forced to postpone (actually thankfully) our target time of departure.
We had initially planned to take the bus (to save money) but given that we had a new issue, we revised our mode of transport to auto. But the priest took a look at the heat-wave (yes Hyderabad is already hot. 33C to be precise) outside & demanded that we call a cab. He said that we would get it reimbursed from our Client.

We leave finally at 12:35. The priest is wearing a crushed formal shirt (because that was the only freshly washed shirt he had), a pair of jeans, torn chappals (we had plans to get it repaired on the way at our own expense) & a pair of cool sun-glasses.
He had the most prized object in his pocket, the paper which had all the slokas written down.

We reach at their place to realize that 1 room has been totally dedicated for the Pujo. The idol was in position. There was a brief confusion on which direction it should be facing but 1 phone call to a senior member of the family ended the problem.
We started arranging all the utensils & other objects got from the shop for the Pujo. The Priest comments “I doubt if I can use all the resources that are placed here”. He has no idea what he is supposed to do with what.
The client pushing his memory to the extreme arranged the best he could. His wife pitched in with declaring that Khichuri is on the gas. This declaration fueled the speed of everyone’s activities.
In between the Priest goes & takes a power-nap while all the rest are buzy deciding on how to get the decoration done. The final solution was to take print-outs of the necessary decoration & cut them out.
Finally at 3:05 we embark on the execution of the rites keeping an eye on the watch (because the deadline is approaching fast) & at the kitchen (where the payment remained). The paper with written down directions & the print-out of some more sloks are placed in front & the priest begins. It is a fight trying to get the pronunciations correct but I must say he did a formidable job. With only the minor hiccup of saying Goutam Kumar Gotro instead of Goutam Gotro & over-using the flower resource he completed the rites. Inputs were regularly & gladly accepted from the Client(s).

At the end of the day it is the FAITH which matters...