Friday, April 17, 2009

Shubho Nabo Barsho!!!!

This was the new year week ....the most important one for me....or the second important one.....not sure, may be both are equally important (The other one is the "original one - 1st Jan" )!!!! The great Nabo (new) Barsho(year) of the great race of us bengalis!! We actually add a Shubho (Auspicious ) as a prefix to the term Nabo Barsho as a an eternal wish that all all new years actually turn out to be auspicious for everyone. I too wish a Shubho Nabo Barsho to all of you, to all your families, extended families, friends, near and dear ones....Wishing you all loads of happiness, success, peace and fulfilment of all your dreams....

Nabo Barsho celebration varies, as we move from being resident Bangalis to probashi bangalis. I have had occassions to move back and forth between these 2 roles. While in Bengal, it is a complete festive situation, u can feel the vibrancy in the air.....people in traditional dresses (that includes females in sarees and males in dhutis?....no, not exactly, only the more adventurus opt for dhutis, others are comfy in kurta - pyjamas only)...Offices are mostly closed, working on Nabo barsho is considered almost a sacrilege. There are cultural activities all over - in most paras (neighbourhoods), with enthusiastic participation from residents of all shapes, colour, sizes and age groups, with any proficiency in singing/dancing/abritti(recitation)/natok (dramatics). The ones who cannot be accomodated on stage due to dearth of space and time, are content to be the audience and cheer the local heroes.

People visit friends' and relatives' homes for spreading the cheer of this special day - younger ones by doing pronam(touching feet of elders), elders by accepting the pronam and showering their ashirbad (blessings). There used to be an interesting tradition associated with this ritual. All blessings were accompanied with some token money which was called bajar-khoroch (cost of shopping). When we were kids, this was one of key attractions of Nabo Barsho. The aim was to touch the feet of maximum number of elders possible and collect maximum amount of bajar-khoroch. This was later spent in some treat like ice-cream or phuchka (pani-puris) or alu-kabli (kind of chaat with boiled potatoes, chickpeas, crushed papdi and lot of spices). The fact we kids most amusing was that even our parents, aunts and uncles got some bajar-khoroch from granparents and granduncles, and they accepted it with glee. I am not sure if these traditions still exist today...but I suspect that they have been put away in some dusty rack of an obsoleted almirah placed in a musty corner among whole lot of other things that we have left behind in our quest for growth, success, progress and what not......... we have left much of our "bangaliyana"(I don't have the right English word for it - the nearest it stands for is essence of being a bengali) long behind....

Not that I am too much of a authentic bangali, having spent most of my years outside bengal, but I do miss lot these things. I am saddened by the invasion of hindi and punjabi film music and bollywood dance in Bangla TV channels. Not that I don't enjoy hindi music, but I have 100 other hindi channels to watch them. I can hardly find any robindro-songeet, nazrul-geeti, adhunik gaan, polli-geeti on air....every reality show participant in Bangla channels is eager to showcase their "bollywood" talents, even to the extent that bengali judges start speaking in hindi !!!! What are we trying to prove here? That we are part of "main-stream"? Why don't south Indian channels need to prove that? Bollywood may be a good thing for India, but it is really sad that it is actually eating up everything that ever was of Bangla Sonskriti. I remember long back a famous quote from a minister in West Bengal - he termed Usha Uthup's performace as "Opo-sonskriti"(anti-culture). I wonder what terms he would have used for today's Bollowood-Bangla sonskriti, I suspect that we would be mostly left speechless !!!!

And before I go into a deep depression on my nostalgia trip, some good things about Nabo Barsho that have not changed and will not. Yes, all you "bhojon-roshik"(food-enthusiast) bengallis - guessed it right - it is FOOD!!! It is popularly said that we bengalis live to eat and not eat to live!!! Food has always been an integral part of any Bengali festival, and nabo barsho is no exception. The favourite breakfast is luchi-alur dom and some misti. Lunch and Dinner are elaborate affairs on this special day. The menu can contain anything among pulao, fish (Macher Kalia, Chingri Macher Malai curry, Ilish maach bhapa based on availability of type of fish), Kosha Mangsho(mutton curry), Fulkopir dalna (cauliflower curry), dhokar dalna(curry made of steamed pulse dumpling), tomato or mango chutney. This is just a sample and not the exhaustive list :-) And the sweet ending is by an assortment of Bengal's most precious gift to mankind - mistis and misti doi.....Thats what we call "Madhureno Shamapayet" (sweet ending)...

Don't even imagine that I spent my nabo barsho on those lines. Living in Delhi, it was a normal day like any other - only that I wore a new dress, and wished Shubho Nabo Barsho to the sprinkling of bengali colleagues I have. And the SMS, phone calls and scrap exchanges with relatives and Bengali friends - far and near - to keep attached to the bengali roots......and yes pronam to elders....

Dinner was definitely not as elaborate as my decription above, but was definitely yummy - courtsey my great ma.....Thank god for small pleasures like nabo barsho....

3 comments:

SGD said...

A belated Shubho Naboborsho to you!!
We celebrated Naboborsho in advance last sunday!! And yes the feast was on!! ;)))
Btw I never knew about the bajar-khoroch... :(((
Thanks for the anecdote on this ritual..

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Pradip Biswas said...

Koel
Wish you very subho nabobarsho. It was, it is and it shall be a celebration day for wishing in the morning hours. This is the day when many get up or compells to get up by the Phone calls wishing "Subho Nabo Barsho"