Children and Durga Puja: The Joys of Puja Shopping

Champa recalls that every Biswakarma Puja day, year after year, their family routine would be same. After the ritualistic kite flying session in the morning and a sumptuous lunch, Baba would take them to New Market for their ‘Puja shopping’. Ma had a couple of favourite shops there that sold children’s garments. She would still go around almost the entire market and come back to her chosen shops and buy frocks, skirts, bell bottoms, slacks and maxi dresses after making them try out each one of those, one by one.

I saw a picture of Ganesh immersion the other day on television. This year Biswakarma Puja (Bongs pronounce it with ‘B’ instead of ‘V’) was on Saturday (September 17). My Facebook newsfeed said that I had never heard of Ganesh Chaturthi festival when I was a kid but I remember that Biswakarma Puja was indeed a very important day in our family calendar.

Baba (Dad) being a teacher of an Engineering College always stayed at home on that day. Ma would also take a leave from work to cook something special for Baba and us. I would go to sleep the previous night with the prayer that the sky remained clear and doesn’t betray.

Every Biswakarma Puja day, year after year our family routine would be same. After the ritualistic kite flying session in the morning and a sumptuous lunch, Baba would take us to the New Market for our ‘Puja shopping’. Ma had a couple of favourite shops there that sold children’s garments. She would still go around almost the entire market and come back to her chosen shops and buy us frocks, skirts, bell bottoms, slacks and maxi dresses after making us try out each one of those, one by one.

It would not be a bit exaggeration if I say that I and my sister used to get a dozen or sometimes even more new pair of dresses every Durga Puja. ‘Kire pujoi kota jama holo?’(Hey how many dresses did you get for the pujas?) was a very common question we were asked in our childhood days by our neighbours, visiting aunts, friends and everyone else. I still remember that I often used to feel very embarrassed as a child to say that I have got twelve or fourteen because once after saying the exact number I had been laughed at for lying and making it up.

Thinking back today I find it really baffling, though. How and why our very middle-class teacher parents could or should spend so much on their daughters’ clothes, I would never know! The shoes were always from the Lindasay Street Bata of course and though they weren’t bought in dozens but each one of us at least got three pairs of the best ones available in that shop.

After the clothes and shoes were bought and brought home, I would show them all one by one very diligently to our Thakurma (grandmother) and to our live-in maids and tell them on which day of the Pujas, I wish to wear which dress. Ma would then take me to Gariahat or the local Entally Market during the weekends to shop for the matching accessories like hair bands and clips and plastic bangles or colourful rings to wear with the dresses purchased.

I also remember that I always took a great delight in picking and choosing these small items than buying the dresses. The stuff we bought were mostly the inexpensive ones, the kind that they sell in pavement stalls but the very idea of finding out the right accessory for each of my clothes fascinated me a lot, even as a child. Then, of course, there had been a couple of occasions when I would take fancy on a particular pair of ornamental slippers or just a polka dotted (we called it ‘Bobby-print’ then) hair band and could just not resist myself from coaxing Ma to buy them for me.

It is a different story altogether that Ma and I would then take a tram to New Market, this time without Baba, one more time to buy another dress, which would go with my most precious and latest buy!

©Champa Srinivasan

Pix from Net.

Champa Srinivasan

Champa Srinivasan

Champa writes on various blogs and magazines on real life issues and incidents.She is a Post Graduate in English literature from Jadavpur University and has taught English in an Undergraduate college in Kolkata. Champa loves spending her time by reading, writing, gardening and learning classical dances. She now lives in Chennai.
Champa Srinivasan

Latest posts by Champa Srinivasan (see all)