For ages, children in north India have been celebrating this festival of the romance of Lord Krishna and His Beloved, Radha, swaying on a jhula, or a swing, and they go about preparing for it as if it is a wedding in their own homes
Just two days to go for D-day … Nothing has been finalised yet.
The Dhoti, Saris, Menu, Lighting, Sound system, Shopping… how will I manage, in such a short time!
To top it all, my request for leave has also been rejected by the office…
My mind was in a tempest with all these thoughts. Then the signal for the end of the day was sounded. Had advanced my work for the next day as well, since I would not be getting any time once I hit home.
Boarded the bus, a 35-minute journey back to home, for just a six km distance, parcelled into multiple stoppages.
The Bollywood posters on the streets of Rehabari read “Aashiqui – This face can stop a crowd”…
I so wished for the crowded thoughts to stop.
Romance was in the air – literally and allegorically, with another poster near Nepali Mandir, with the national heartthrobs in it ‘DIL‘… an unknown smile escaped.
As I crossed the premier cinema hall of Guwahati ‑ ‘Meghdoot‘, my heart seemed to portray the movie ‘Ghayal’, which was running, with a not so SUNNY feeling, reminding my race against time.
Offered my prayers on the move as we crossed Gariamath, God be with me.
Back at home, Maa was ready with the food, which I devoured in no time.
She sensed my anxiousness, and ruffling my hair she said: “The dhuti and saris have been taken care of, you can have a look.”
Ma sure knows all the points that trouble her son.
Relieved, I rushed out and along with friends, reached the shopping destination.
It seemed so crowded as if others also had last minute realisations.
Snailing my way through the crowd, I got what was required, barring one which will be delivered on the D-Day, the shop owner said.
Along the way, I met the old Dadu on a roadside shop, his head gently swinging due to his age, and I also met Petla there.
They accompanied us home.
The shuttle bus of NF Railway must have already made its stop near Reserve Bank.
Bapi, for that is how address my father, having returned from his office in Maligaon, eyed the items we had bought, and seemed satisfied.
In his loving, baritone voice, he declared that the lighting and sound system have been taken care of.…
My joy knew no bounds. However, my younger sister showed little interest, not that she could be of much help though in the situation anyway.
After going through the collection of saris and dhuti at night, I retired for the day.
The next day, I returned home at the same time by the same bus, after going through the usual activities. I finalised the menu for the five days ‑ as is so typical with such events. The infrastructure for the pandal (marquee) had been laid with the final touches to be done the next day
On the D-Day, I reached home at around 4pm by bus.
Rushed to the shopping spot, the Kumartuli.
The artist, handed me the idol brimming with smile “Here is your Radha-Krishna“….
My Heart skipped a beat…
Overwhelmed with joy, I looked at my 5/5 feet pandal, made by Bapi with a bamboo structure.
The side perimeter walls, done up by the saris of Ma, and the background by the dhoti.
The lighting was just perfect with the bulb focusing on the Eternal Lovers: Radha Krishna on a Jhula, with the colourful tuni bulbs (decorative lights)adding to the festive fervour.
I had already decorated the ground to look like a common day to day scenery, the Dadu, with the spring-neck sitting outside a house made out of cardboard among various other landscapes.
Today is Jhulan Puja, the day I was waiting for…
Celebrated with love by the children and young, backed by parents and elders, in the premise of their own houses in all the 30 quarters of the colony for five days.
The menu for today is ‘nokuldana’(coagulated sugar balls) kept in a plate with the typical Petla idol sitting beside it.
The festivity has begun, to be continued for five days culminating on Purnima… with khichudi, labra and mihidana.
(For the uninitiated, khichudi is a delicious gruel of rice and moongdaal; labra is a very special Assamese and Bengali dish of five vegetables cooked with rare spices; and mihidana is a sweet dish. These are staple for all religious festivals.)
Switched on the music system for some Bappi Da (Bappi Lahiri) numbers …My six-year-old sister started smiling and dancing!
PS: Dear readers, if you know of this tradition still being celebrated in any colony/community en masse, do share.
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A Guwahatian by birth and in his heart, Lincon is an avid traveller, deeply in love with the northeast, especially Assam and its rich cuisine and culture . A corporate professional, he regales in weaving real life incidents into throbbing portrayals, with both words and visuals, and makes the reader feel as much a part of his own sojourn