Noboborsho mornings are significantly etched in my reminiscence. For someday at the very least, Ma wouldn’t have needed to con me into waking up early by screaming it was previous morning hours or flip off the fan to tug me out of sleep. I’d nearly leap away from bed and prepare to accompany her to the morning procession or ‘Prabhat feri’, with different fans from the neighbourhood.
We would all collect at a pre-decided location at 6-6.30 am, and stroll via the close by lanes, singing Esho Hey Baisakh or Hey Nutan, blaring via megaphones, our hearts brimming with pleasure of being a Bengali. The procession would finish with a brief programme the place youngsters, girls decked up in cotton sarees and gajra, and males in kurta-pyjama, would recite poems, sing and dance, after having rehearsed for at the very least per week.
This yr, there have been no para (neighbourhood) conferences nor dance or music rehearsals for our much-awaited Prabhat feri. After spending 2020 Noboborsho underneath lockdown in one other metropolis, the possibility to have the ability to have a good time the brand new yr at dwelling this time was fairly a reduction. Having lived away from dwelling for a very long time now, such situations of seasonal homecoming are maybe what makes you are feeling linked to your roots — reliving your childhood rituals are maybe what offers you a way of familiarity and heat, one thing you crave and need to return to every time.
With the vaccines rolled out, Noboborsho 2021 was meant to be a revival of these acquainted new yr rituals, or at the very least one hoped so. But as our household, pals and family members eagerly waited for Poila Baisakh even amid the election frenzy — some awaiting their son or daughter’s return from one other state, some planning to lastly make that go to to a relative that they’ve been deferring since final yr — coronavirus instances surged within the nation, this time with new variants and new challenges, leaving us with a sense of deja vu, albeit not a pleasing one.
And for individuals like myself, who look ahead to fueling their ‘Bangaliana’ on these particular events, the COVID tragedy shattered hopes for yet one more yr.
Attending close by para cultural programmes, hours-long open music live shows at Kolkata’s Rabindra Sadan and different auditoriums, or watching a much-talked-about play meant to awaken a Bangali’s thoughts and spirit, have been a number of the highlights of Poila Baisakh. But as per the ‘new normal’, this time, too, a lot of the occasions have gone digital.
Not to say the Poila Baisakh-special Bengali delicacies. A typical Noborborsho breakfast at dwelling means luchi and aloo or chholar dal (chana dal) with jalebi. Lunch can’t be full with out kosha mangsho. Home-cooked meals will probably be relished this time as effectively however the much-awaited ‘pet pujo’ with pals at one’s favorite restaurant is probably not the identical anymore. From being on alert in case you got here too near the one in entrance or on the again within the large queue exterior the eatery, to panicking about correct disinfection of the desk and crockery — there’s a lot that is available in your approach. Even the common tele bhaja (pakodas) or lebu cha (black tea with lemon) offered by chaiwallahs in aluminium kettles on the metropolis’s hotspots can’t be consumed with out warning.
Poila Baisakh, final yr, was steeped in uncertainties introduced by the pandemic. One yr down, the scare stays, however most of us are at the very least making an attempt to make peace with how life appears at present, bracing ourselves for challenges with out breaking down. As artistes transfer from the stage to on-line channels, the viewers would costume up in new garments– maybe purchased from on-line shops and never procuring malls– and would log in to observe their favorite celeb carry out on a digital platform as a substitute of heading out.
Distant family members and pals, who couldn’t make it dwelling this time, will probably be greeted on video calls. Gifts will probably be despatched via on-line portals. And all that will be left after a delicious Bengali meal, can be the grabbing of pillows and immersing oneself in ‘bhaat ghoom’ (afternoon nap).