I miss the Calcutta puja season. It was the best time of the year. The entire city on holiday, decked up like a bride. Bright lights, new clothes, dazzling pandals. The atmosphere was electric, and we young boys thrived on it, scampering from pandal to pandal.
The first harbinger, well before the season itself, was a knock on the door, which was opened to a semi-circle of local lads representing their area clubs. Everybody contributed happily toward subscriptions for the community puja pandals. I remember one club name: Uddipanni. The name is unusual enough to stick in my memory after over thirty-five years.
Last week I happened to pass the Keral Banga Samskriti Sangha (the association of Bengalis in Cochin) premises in the evening. This was what it looked like (see the above photo).
Three years ago, with great joy, I participated in the puja celebrations in Cochin. It was like being transported to the Calcutta of my boyhood:
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