After the immersions of the Durga idols, it is time for greetings and merriment. Like a phoenix rises from its ashes, Bengalis tide over the sadness of separation from Maa Durga to engage in the happy flow of 'Shubho Bijoya' greetings, compulsorily accompanied by sweets.
People greet each other with ‘Shubho Bijoya’. The young touch the feet of elders to get their blessings. Men of similar age greet each other through kolakuli, or embrace, and it is done thrice. People visit their friends and relatives in large numbers. Not just inside homes, but wherever they meet, pronam and kolakuli become almost de rigeur for Bengalis. Old enmities are often forgotten and new friendships forged, for men, women as well as children.
In this day of mobile phones and the internet, Bijoya greetings travel electronically as well – through SMSs, emails, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp et al.
Bengalis have always had a sweet tooth, and the day of Bijoya is one of the major occasions to indulge in sweets. For children, this day is also special as they get sweets wherever they visit. Often children touch the feet of elders just to get their share of sweets! And elders just cannot refuse, not on this day.
The variety of sweets available on this day in any sweet shop in Bengal can be mind-boggling. Some are often prepared specially for this occasion, once a year. Besides buying, women indulge in their culinary skills to come up with wonderful concoctions, both sweets and savouries. Traditional culinary skills handed down over generations, from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, make their presence specially felt on this day.
For the old and the young, for women and men and children, it is often the best day of the year. And then the wait begins for 'asche bochor abar hobe.'
Lead image: debnature.blogspot.in