Naboborsho is perhaps the best time to show one’s Bangaliyana (Bengali Culture). Though we are right now very fond of the Western Culture and try to step into their shoes every now and then, but deep rooted in our heart is our love for the age old rituals and customs surrounding Barshobaron (welcoming New Year). Nabobarsho is thus surely an event one of its kind; it is the celebration of the arrival of a New Year; synonymous to a fresh start throughout.
I still remember my childhood memories reflecting the essence of Naboborsho. The best part of this festival is its pure homely, earthen tone. It may miss the grandeur of the Durga Puja, no doubt; but still; its pure Bongness woos and refreshes us with a colourful splash! Along with the Baithoki Adda (a Bengali New Year program organised by Doordarshan aired on the Nabobarsho morning), I can still relive my childhood moments dipped in the simple habits and rituals of Nabobarsho!
Throughout the month of Chaitro (the last month of Bengali New Year Calender), we received the invitations for Halkhata from our known Bengali Business Community. ‘Halkhata’ is nothing but auspicious ritual of opening their new book of Accounts. For the D-day, generally all the shops deck up with thermocol decorations, aamer pallab (mango tree leaves) and sheesh dub (small branched coconut). Along with the dawn of the New Year on first day of the month of Baishakh (Poila Baishakh), the temples are seen crowded by Bengali castes and creeds eager to seek the blessings of the Eternal Supreme. The Halkhata is also opened by drawing the symbol of Swastika (the Hindu Sacred symbol, drawn before any sacred event) over the fresh jumbo register, representing their Book of Accounts. Then the God and Goddess of Prosperity, Sri Sri Ganesh and Laxmijis’ puja are performed with prayers and yagnas(Sacrifice held in the sacred Fire).
Whenever I pip into my childhood Nababarsho memories, I reflect attending these Pujas in one of my neighbourhood shop, followed by our (I was always my father’s Partner in Crime in these Nabobarsho Special hangouts!) Nimontron raksha at other invited outlets. Our primary interest was not really the Puja of course, but collection of the Laddoo Prasad (Offerings), hefty sweets packets, gifts and Bengali Calendars! My primary engrossment was though, very specifically, the Bengali calendars, which in themselves, I presume, inherit the essence of Bangaliyana! These Calendars differ from the ones of their English origin. They are far glossier than the later; depicting some or the other frames of Hindu Gods/Goddesses stapled in sharp contrast, with poor janky blurred month and date sheets. But the images were so bright and lively; I used to look forward for them fervently each time with utmost awe and surprise. After reaching home, my first job was to check and replace the old calendars with the ones collected…while my father seemed busy doing justice to his accumulated sweets!
Apart from this, I can also recollect, wearing new traditional dress and going for a long drive with my family. After offering prayers at 23 Pally Durgamandir, we used to drop at Sharma Sweets behind Ashutosh College. The smell of their Hinger Kachuri was enough to increase our appetite and we used to enjoy the same with Alur torkari, chutney and Kalakand! Rich Creamy Lassi tasted so yummy that it also became a part and parcel of the Nabobarsho collage, still imprinted in my soul!
But my best memories of Nabobarsho were mostly surrounding my Maa. She was perhaps, identical to all the happiness and festivity! I endorse her way of dressing up in light coloured summer sarees like Dhakai or Kota, matched with minimal makeup, bindi and a few jewellery. When I look down those memory lanes, I presume, her aura was actually her Bengali sophistication that she adorned so charmingly! She was too shy to attend any invites unlike my father, but was always eager to hang around with us instead, hopping at shopping places, buying gifts for her near and dear ones, including our maid, Basanti, watching a Bengali movie and so on! Oh! How I enjoyed and danced with the summer breeze those days!
Nabobarshos will never be the same again! The excitement and enthusiasm of all these festivals have held to exist with my Maa’s demise.
Though I personally still clad up in Bengali attire savouring Bengali sweets on Nabobarsho till date, but it seems, as the childhood had faded in oblivion, so had its innocence, charm and impact!
Still, a new year will surely pave its way through our lifeline; once again, we will tune in to Tagore’s song; “Esho He Boishakh, Esho Esho!” ; ‘Bengalism’ will enthral in full swing at every nooks of Bengal.
With this festive avenue round the corner, maybe I can also step out wearing white bel flower garland of nostalgia; attending the Probhatpheri (Morning Celebratory Walk) to welcome Bengali New Year this time; wishing you all “Shubha Nabobarsho!” (Happy New Year)!
Image credits: DNA India, The Indian Express