With the passing of Dashami and immersion of Goddess Durga sadness descended on the hearts of every devotee. Three days of festivities just vanished in a jiffy. Although a bit tearful in spirit as Bijoya Dashami is the day we bid adieu to Durga Maa and her children, Bijoya is joyous occasion. শুভ বিজয়া দশমী!
Of course sadness was the predominant (and quite publicly noticeable) emotion when I was small. We used to be sad as it was the last day of the much awaited festival, the excitement, which was carried in our little hearts for months in a row was ending. The immersion (বিসর্জন) or the departure of the pomp and grandeur of maa Durga meant going back to the routine. It was time to go back to wearing the school uniforms and running to school in morning. Bijoya was the time when we used to dress up in in our best Pujo clothes and hop from house to house touching the feet of all elders, curious to taste their Bijoya special delights and receive a platter of sweets or savories for us visiting kids. Rating the houses based on the cooking skills of the kitchen owner an important part of the game. As a grown up now, we have Bijoya sammilanis, where all the families gather to exchange greetings, embrace each other — kolakuli (কোলাকুলি) and taste the festival sweets and lavish meals. This has indeed simplified the yesteryear’s rituals, cutting short the greeting period to one day vis-a-vis over a month back then. The only thing that this common meeting place does not allow is rating the houses based on the quality of food, and most of the times, these are organised in restaurants or outsourced to caterers. So taste spotting is a bygone ritual.
We were to go to Dhanbad to attend the annaprasan — a Hindu rite of passage ritual (Saṃskara) that marks an infant’s first intake of food other than milk — of son of Jaya’s cousin on October 24. So we hosted the Bijoya Sammilani on October 23 at the Hotel Emerald. Once the venue was decided Babai & I got down to the intricacies of organising the Bijoya Sammilani besides finalisation of menu.
After the exchange of “Shubho Bijoya” greetings and kolakuli, we all sat down for a couple of rounds of Housie game. It was followed by the dinner. At around 11.00 pm, we all dispersed saying — আসছে বছর আবার হবে —asche bochor aabar hobe (meaning maa Durga will come again next year).
While returning to Baghdad, I was in New Delhi on October 31. My flight to Dubai was at 4.00 am. My schoolmates arranged a Bijoya sammilani for our 1980 batch on that day so that I could also join. It was arranged at Barbeque Nation in Vasant Kunj. As decided, we all assembled there at 7.30 pm. The ambience is hip and lively, the food is scrumptious and the service is zippy. The food is tasty here. They put live-grill directly on our table so that we can grill your starters and savour them while they are still sizzling! Although, we can choose from a selection of meat, seafood or vegetarian delicacies, we mainly went for prawns. In main course, they had a large varieties of items, but we were so full with the starters and kebabs while gossiping, enjoying, living every bit of our fun-filled moments and sipping whiskey that we straightaway went for desserts — ice creams, gulab jamuns, cheese cake, kalakand, mirchi ki halwa and of course, the kulfi. And there is no Bengali celebration that ends without a plate full of sweets.
It was a great get-together as we all went back to our good old days of late seventies. At the end, Niladri and Pronab dropped me at hotel. It was then 11:30 pm.
Happy Bijoya! Shubho Bijoya! শুভ বিজয়া!