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The sadness that Goddess Durga leaves behind in hearts of Bengalis lasts long but the community still choose to celebrate other festive occasions soon after it, believing that certain celebrations are better if they come once a year. The full moon that appears right after Durga Puja is the day when Bengali mothers celebrate Kojagori a mother who stays awake at night to worship Goddess Lakshmi Lokkhi Pujo.
Well, this tradition is perhaps restricted to Kolkata and only Bengali colonies in cities across the country. Bengalis, especially the Bangals the refugees from Bangladesh , prefer eating jora Illish double Hilsa on this occasion of Lokkhi Pujo. On the occassion a Bengali mother is expected to eat minimum eight kinds of food, including Hilsa, for dinner after the puja.
While the traditional approach to this particular puja is that it should be celebrated on the same mondop or pandal and at the same sthaan or thaan the place where the Goddess was worshipped days ago , places almost everywhere in Kolkata dismantle the pandals only after this puja is over. A similar scene greets one here in Chittaranjan Park, the hub of the Bengali community. This year, however, the purnima full moon was on Tuesday and as per the Bengali calender, the tithi time of the puja was on Wednesday.
Mothers wake up early on this particular day to gather shiuli phool jasmine , dubbo grass twigs , aam pawllob mango leaves , lotus, paddy unmilled rice and paddy twigs. They fast till evening and cook a variety of dishes for the family and guests. I have been worshiping since my wedding in Paayesh is a must beside khichuri, luchi and aalur dum. Along with ghyat or laabra that is basically made of seven vegetables, including radish, brinjal, spinach, green banana, pumpkin, beans, potato and bori, a typical Bengali food prepared from paste of pulses.
Also on the menu is aalur dum dum aalu and baadhakopir torkari cabbage or bandhgobi ki sabzi. Paayesh kheer served with hot golaap jaam makes up the dessert.
The preparation for the puja starts around noon after the mother dons a beautiful taant saree and makes alpona design at the threshold of each and every door with liquid chalk. She assembles the essentials for the puja, mainly, fruits of seven to nine types are chopped and kept in brass utensils and a swastika or Om is made on a small pot, filled with paddy and adorned by five mango leaves, placed atop along with a small gamchha and betel nut.
The puja mainly starts in the evening with the mother reading the paanchali, a beautiful story written in Sanskrit. At times, she rings a bell and blows a conch while offering the puja but other musical instruments, like dhaak drum , are a total no-no on this occasion as Bengalis believe Lokkhi is the epitome of peace and she flees if loud sound or music is played. Do experience this occasion once. The fragrance of dhoop mixed with different fruits and baked moong daal make for delicious memories.
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A Bengali mother's Lokkhi Pujo
Shri Shri Laxmidevi Panchali & Brata Katha | শ্রী শ্রী লক্ষ্মীদেবী পাঁচালি & ব্রত কথা
The autumn festivity that had started with Durga Pujo, concludes with another much awaited Lakshmi pujo or more precisely Kojagari Lakshmi pujo for Bengali, that falls on Kojagari purnima or sharad purnima as known elsewhere in other parts of India. Fast forward to Seventy years later, this divide has become obsolete now almost and once popularized by East Bengal community, Kojagari Lakshmi puja is well adopted by everyone beyond the borders. Interestingly, this is another time when the cultural attributes of each of the Bengali community is very much on display, while ghoti households worships Ma Lakshmi in form of idol, kojagari lakshmi pujo in bangal household altogether holds a different meaning. Hailing from such family, I had heard stories from my Ma and grandma about elaborate preparations they used to do during Lakshmi puja in Dhaka. The preparation would be started a week before, guest would be invited, the entire clan would be assembled and this one day was much more than religious rituals. It was also the time for bonhomie, get together, music and time to get indulge in huge feast platter. It would be interesting to note that Lakshmi shora usually has Ma Durga as central image and why it was so, I had no idea about it.
Kojagari Lakshmi puja – rituals, believes and the divine Bengali feast platter
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