We are just over with the Durga pujo festivity . Lots of pomp and glamour were seen , the best of dresses , dancing to the Dhak beats and riot of colour were shown off and finally , Ma Durga was immersed with a cry requesting her to come again , next year . During the Anjaly and Aroti , many glances were exchanged , many relations made , and many unmade .

It’s business as usual now . Ma is lapsing into memory as I recall the Bijoya we enjoyed with our growing up days in Allahabad in the 50s, 60,s , 70s, 80s and even in the 90s. Those were the golden days . After immersion of the Protima , we would feel an immense vacuum as if someone precious has gone away . Then , we would impatiently wait for the Shanti jol to come . Sun would steadily go down and then we would hear the Dhakis’ beats announcing the return of the mohalla dadas with Shanti jol . We would huddle at the pujo bari and receive Shanti jol sprinkled by the purut moshai .

Now is the time for kolakuli ( embracing thrice ) and all touching , both the feet of the elders with great reverence . It was a proper ritual – stooping and seeking ashirwad . After this , people according to age and veneration , would go out of their houses to meet relatives or friends , the elderly to greet them shubho Bijoya . Importantly , there were home made sweets particularly ‘ bondey ‘ the colourful sweetmeat which were invariably served on this holy occasion . There was a joy of spirit in the air and the feeling was divinely euphoric . My eyes are moistened when I recall those golden days of a glorious past when Bijoya Doshomi was a way of life .

My father , who was a simple teacher , would invite all his students after the Bijoya and treat them with sweets . And the students belonged to all class of people cutting across religious lines . It was a unique symbol of religious harmony and cordiality . We as youngsters , served the students and other guests with sweets and water and this drill was immaculate .

For the departed ancestors , whose photos with marigold garlands adorned the broken plastered walls , we would offer pronams with all seriousness seeking blessings and it would appear that Thakurmas , Dadus, Pishimas etc would come out of the picture frames to bless us . At least , we could feel the vibration ..

Later , all elders living outside Allahabad , were sent post cards conveying Bijoya pronams to the elders and ashish to the juniors . This practice was without fail and was part of a sincere duty . Postman , in the meantime , would also deliver letters sent by outstation relatives . The letters brought endless joy of Bijoya and it was a great feeling reading out the letters to the elderly at home whose eyesights were failing and they impatiently looked forward to hear accounts of their relatives settled thousands of miles away . Telephones were not common so letters were the most effective means of sharing Bijoya greetings .

Now ? Now , times have changed . Joint family system has collapsed . Digital life has taken over postal communication and there is hardly any time for any one to greet on Bijoya . There are time constraints and everyone is overworked with Bijoya not so prioritised . SMS and whatsaap are ruling the pujo fervour . Youngsters finish the age old custom by merely sending a one line message “ Pronam niyo”. It is not even addressed as Dear Kaka , Dear Jethu , dear Mashi or Pishi . In many cases even dear is missing . Grand old days of Bijoya wishing is getting lost in the pages of history . Touching feet as part of pronams or seeking blessings has become a thing of the past .

I am not sure if I have become outdated or of the old school of thought that I miss the pronams or the post cards or the kolakuli but the tradition is dying and looks like it will be extinct soon . Having said this , I must also tell that there is a group of youngsters , though in minority , who still believe in pronams and doing tight embraces of kolakuli and I hope this tribe will increase to preserve the ethos of Bijoya dashami .

Shubho Bijoya to all readers of this piece who have , despite their busy time table , have lent their time and patience to read this dry and boring post .

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