After immersions of Durga idols into the holy river, it is time for greetings and merriment. Like a phoenix rises from its ashes, Bengalis tide over the sadness of separation with Maa Durga and engage in the happy flow of Shubho Bijoya greetings, compulsorily accompanied by sweets.
Always a time for a sweet tooth
People greet each other with ‘Shubho Bijoya’. They touch the feet of elders to get their blessings, called pronam. Men of similar age greet each other through kolakuli, which involves embracing each other three times. People visit their friends and friends in large numbers. Not just their homes, wherever they meet, pronam and kolakuli are almost de rigeur. Old enmities are often forgotten and new friendships forged, for men, women as well as children.
Bijoya goes hi-tech
Now with electronic communication having taken over our lives, these traditions have come of age, too, so to say. Sending Bijoya greetings over SMS, e-mails, chats, Facebook, Twitter and other such media is the norm, often because our increasingly busier lives prevent celebrations stretching beyond a day. There is a positive as well as negative side to it. The negative is of course that people have little time for each other, and it becomes more apparent on these days. The positive is that the variety of ditties people can come up with in their messages can be amazing. Latent poetic skills come to the fore, thanks to electronic messaging.
Bengalis have always had a sweet tooth; Bijoya is the day to indulge in that to no end, to do some mishti mukh or to have something sweet to celebrate. Of course, diabetics need to be careful. For them, specially prepared diabetic sweets are available nowadays so as not to leave them out of the celebrations. People visit each other bearing boxes and bhad (earthen containers) with of all kinds of sweets and savouries. With a mind to make it to as many homes as possible, the visits often continue late into the night.
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; a kind of sweet blackmailing!
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.
Asche bochor abar hobe
For Bengalis, the ritual of visiting friends and relatives is not just limited to this one day, though busier lives are making stretching this to more than a day rarer. However, Bengalis keenly await this day to indulge in meeting, greeting and eating.
For the old and the young, for women and men and children, it is often the best day of the year.
Subho Bijoya to everyone... itz sad that we greet our relatives via phone and our friends through facebook, SMS as our busy lives do not permit us to visit all of them.
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