Monday, February 7, 2011

Sarees and Saraswati Puja and more....

Today is Saraswati Puja.
Realised it only afer reading the FB status of my dear friend, Joyi.

Took me  many years back to a beautiful wintry day in Cotton College , Guwahati, Assam.
The day would start with  me fumbling and rumbling around Ma's "Godrej" ( which stood for all steel almirahs incidentally), pulling out saree after saree, mekhela after mekhela.
In those golden days, I was , well, not so "healthy looking", so Ma's blouses had to be quickly had altered around the arms by Ma- she hated anyone wearing loose blouses.

Finally, after a  gruelling hour of decision making and almost driving Ma up the wall, I would take the final call.

Next hour was a flurry of shower, lipsticking, mad scurry for a matching bindi and earrings, slipping on my highest heels so that I looked tall, Ma pinning up the aachal of the saree or mekhela chadar.

And then,  coated with compliments from Ma and the neighbouring aunties, I would walk down the four floors of our flat and catch the bus to Cotton College.

Oh what a  canvas ... a riot of colours.... everyone dressed in their almost  bridal best, the gates lined with pillars of banana plants and woven with auspicious mango leaves,  blarring  music from loudspeakers propped up on makeshift bamboo pillars.

And the beautifully decorated pandals with the Goddess  idol, pujari chanting the mantras.

After all the compliments from friends and the appreciating looks and stares from the "boys", we would go pandal hopping around the campus.

Each hostel would vie with each other for the best puja pandal and celebration - the students would have stayed up all night decorating,  putting up lights, dancing in the small vans while ushering the Goddess into the pandal from the idol makers.

Professors and students mingled as one.

The neighbouring girl's college would be the hive of attention, with gorgeous girls and their gorgeous wear.

Lunch would be "khichri and labra bhaji" in one of the pandals and maybe in more than one of the pandals.

Love and romance dotted the air, with  romantic couples sitting close together, sharing a meal in Feeds or Hotel Prag or Sunflower.....

Droves of girlfriends would go for a stroll down Panbazar and Fancy Bazar.

It would be late evening when I reached home.

Ma would also be back from work around the same time- so usually  our puja at home was a quick lighting of the diya in our regular  puja corner in the kitchen and Ma, my sister and me chanting ," Saraswati Saraswati, Konthe gulapi......"

There would be vegetarian dinner that night- either puri sabzi or khichri and potato fries.

As we retired for the night, I would revisit the day, the pujas, the sarees..... and wished that such days would continue in our lives.
Days that brought all our friends together
Celebrations we all revelled in
Prayers which created an atmosphere so positive that there were no foes or illwill that day

That is what religious celebrations are about.
Nothing could match up  to  the spirit of friendship and camaraderie all of us felt on this auspicious day.