Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The festival has begun with "KHNUTI PUJO"

"Naba Anande Jago Aji...Naba Robi Kirane......"

As the cuckoo starts to sing in a distant meadow
As the breeze triggers a smile
We know what autumn has come to bestow
We know its time to return from exile

As the clouds loiter about
And the Kans grass moves to a rhythm unknown
The smell of new cloths spread around
It is season to embrace gaiety and sadness disown

As the goddess of Empowerment descents from heaven
As the season of festivities begin
Open your hearts to imbibe the warmth
Let Overwhelm flow out of your being just like a djinn............
Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta

As Lord Ganesha has already inaugurated the season of festivities of our nation full of colours, we Bengalis have geared up to welcome him back. This time he will be accompanied by his mother Devi Durga and siblings Lord Karthik, Devi Lakshmi and Devi Saraswati. As per mythology each year Devi Durga descents from Kailash and come to the earth with her children. Her annual visit to her maiden house, is our Durga Puja, or Sharodutsab in Bengali. A time when Bengal and Bengalis get all decked up and resonate vibes of joy, gaiety, culture and heritage. An entire season of living up to our own expectations in terms of effervesce and happiness. It is a time when every corner of the state and especially my city of joy Kolkata is illuminated with the never fading lights of union of different cultures, caste, creed and colours. A festival that brings the distanced nearer, a festival that distances negativities. Dressed like a new bride my city awaits the descent of Ma.

But my husband Avishek and I have been spending last three Durga Puja's in Mumbai. If you ask us, do we miss Kolkata? The answer will be most definitely YES. Yet we stay here, because there is something that pulls us back, refrains us from packing our bags and rushing out. And that is association, association with a lovely bunch of welcoming, warm and smiling faces, association with culture and its practice, association with SPANDAN. Celebrating the festival just like others but with a purpose......

SPANDAN FOUNDATION is a socio-cultural organisation comprising of warm hearted people who come together to celebrate festivals, spread humanity and much more. It is a pool of talent and a platform to showcase the same. We have been a part of it since the last three years and enjoyed the gradual development of cherished bonds and fragrances of friendship. Avishek and me both participate in plays and enjoy each moment of festivity with the association.

To mark the beginning of Powai Sharodutsav 2015, the first rung of the ladder is already stepped onto. Khnuti Pujo or placing the first bamboo on the ground where the holy rituals of the puja will be performed was executed last Sunday.

It was warm, and I would clarify and people who are in Mumbai will appreciate that warm is an understatement to define the current heat waves that has hit the city. The sun was happily bestowing its energy on us and draining us of the same. Yet believe you me, the vibrance could not be faded by sweat. Our dress code was red. Women clad is red dhakais and cottons, their coruscating red bindis, men in red kurtas...defied the hot sun and bravely endorsed the effervescence of the festival.

And then there was bong food, Kichuri, Irish Mach Bhaja, Beguni, Fulkopir Torkari and chutney made the delectable lunch spread for the afternoon. What more do we require to construct something constructive? Jokes apart that sunny Sunday afternoon started the countdown....for MA's Descent from Heaven.

A glimpse of Sunday, a day of vibrance.

It has begun..

Puja preparations...

Khnuti Puja...

Ladies in Red...Just a few

A cheerful moment

Women from Venus

Men from Mars

Yummy spread

The last two are my personal favourites ;-)

Thanks To Arnab da (Arnab Chakrabarty) and Prosun da (Prosun Roy) for the pics I have used here. However it is worth to thank the numerous other artistic eyes behind several lenses that captured lovely moments that day.

Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta

Monday, 28 September 2015


My growing up days were magical. I believe that has made me whatever I am, my love for nature, my love for writing...everything. My parents have given me and my sisters the best possible blend of independence, culture and acceptance.  They always taught me to face the world straight into the eyes...because if you are correct, you have nothing to fear. This same conviction has given me the confidence to face the audience, since I was a little kid, the stage has always summoned and embraced me.

Since the last three Durga Pujas that I have spent in Mumbai, I have participated in plays. Really the stage gives you chances to play many lives in one, and that's what is unique. The minutes or hours, that you spend with the spot light and pancake on you, makes you believe, think and behave differently. You forget who you are. Sometimes you are moody, sometimes nagging and sometimes unbelievingly righteous.

But "the day" is always too short, hectic and tensed, the real frolic is hidden during the rehearsals. Rehearsals are more than just rehearsing, they are means to bond with people, who share your passion. The candidness and beauty of the journey fills the within, with enough warmth to last a lifetime. Even today when I think of the rehearsals of my childhood participations, a shiny grin lightens up my face. Memories, memories and more memories, cherished moments!! The last three years with SPANDAN has filled me similarly. This association is unique in ways one than one, I have received immeasurable love from everyone. And hence the Durga Puja days sees me and my hardcore Kolkatian husband Avishek in Mumbai. Because Spandan is no less than family.

Each year Spandan comes up with a unique theme for Welcoming the Goddess of Empowerment, the symbol of equality and beyond. This year we aim at  "REDISCOVERING ROOTS". Our awesome Natok Group, is sweating it out to bring out the best in all of us....a few of the pics taken during rehearsals are shared below.

Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Ganesh Chathurthi-the beginning of the festive season

It’s been really long since I wrote anything. Life is quite hectic these days. But being busy before Durga Puja means happiness besides getting tired. Yes, the long awaited rehearsal days have reappeared in my life and again. Completing office work and running to Powai, is the reality of my life now. This awaited haste has that flavor that spices up life.
Durga Puja, Kolkata and Bengalis are kind of official synonyms. It is no rocket science to guess why I say so. Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata are more than grandiloquent, it is effervescent and a reflection of Bengali life and living. However here in Mumbai, and likewise in many other cities across the world, wherever Bengalis come together, we dare to recreate the magic, we dream to recreate a home away from home. The organization I am attached with “Spandan” also aims to celebrate Durga Puja in Mumbai. We call it festival with a purpose and each year our idol, pandal aim at resonating some cause/theme. 2015 will see us “rediscovering our roots.”
As we indulge into preparations for welcoming Ma, the stage of festivities is set by Ganesh Puja, the festival that marks the beginning of an entire season of overflowing emotions, grandeur and fun. It is also the biggest festival in Maharashtra, the entire state and especially Mumbai, resonates with the tune of  "Joydev, Joydev Jai Mangalmurti", and so do we. Divine, is the word that describes the ambience created with the arrival of Shri Ganesh Deva in my city. The air has a tangible sense of happiness, a sense of comfort, a sense of sooth like mother's touch. Really when I think, I feel proud of my nation. Where in the world, so many diverse cultures stay together enjoying and participating in each other's festivities and celebrations? I salute my Nation, for being so unique. 

Our besties Shalaka and Nilesh are from Maharashtra, and like each year me and my husband went to their house for celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi. And surrounded by flowers, modak and homage sat the cutest God "Lord Ganesh", his sight fills me with hope. Hope to be able to fight the odds, hope to be able survive rough mavericks. Wanted  to share few pics we had taken at  their place.....
Be Happy....It is festival TIME!!!

Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta

The Divine

With the Divine

Shalaka and Me

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Fun, Frolic in Aromas Cafe

Life in a metro, is like a race. And especially if you are a proud resident of Amchi Mumbai, your battle against time, will be a never ending one. Balancing your professional, personal and cherished will be quite more than tough. Frankly I think, the traffic inside the brain is heavier than on the roads. It might take an hour more to reach home, fighting for space with enormous number of vehicles that run on the city roads, but it takes hours to get prepared to face the road. Hence I believe, in cities like this, recreation and rejoicing with the right people, in the right place and never pushing a plan for the right time to come, is kind of essential to survive the rough mavericks. A good and understanding group of friends, make life worth living. Often we forget about the shortfalls and absences, and completely indulge into fun, frolic. It is important to let the aroma of friendship touch, it is important to open the gates to free-spiritedness.

Completely unexpectedly, this city has given me more reliable and lovable friends I could think of. All of them are treasured to me, and so are the moments spent with them.

Wherever in the world, bongs meet they tend to form a group. That does not necessarily mean, we shy away from others. It is just that being from one state, binds in terms of food habits, festivals and choices. However I firmly believe friendship has nothing to do with origin, because most my great friends are not bongs. However in Mumbai, we have small group of bongs, of similar age group and taste, we have named ourselves “Badly Bangali”. Our group meets on several occasions, celebrating our friendship and food is the most important ingredient of all our gatherings, after all bongs are born foodies.

Our recent meet was in Powai, in Aromas Cafe. A gathering for brunch. I kind of loved it, in-spite of not being in very good health, I enjoyed every moment of the morning. As usual not all of us were on time, including me and my husband Avishek. The decided time was 10 am, we reached at 10:30 am, however the brighter side was there were more late comers. And by 11 am, ten adults and three kids, had gathered under the same roof, occupying the central table and transforming the restaurant to a brighter and livelier one. Giggles, food, coffee, nostalgia, remembering the past and dreaming of the future, time passed beautifully. The three angel like kids Darshu, Hridi and the youngest Googly stole the show, with naughtiness and cuteness. A completely well spent morning.

About Aromas, I would say the food and ambience was good, we had ordered some smoked salon egg Benedict and  chicken rosti, along with several types of coffee, all of them tasted great. However they could include  some mocktails and fruit punches, because many like me, love fruity things for breakfast.

However, food and ambience are important. But more important is the urge to celebrate life, believe me there are many ways of doing so. After my life-style management session in office (read-Life Style Management), I have really learnt to appreciate the gravity of being happy, which actually is the key to good health, the best of all doctors.
Make friends, love them,be yourself and be happy!

Aritra Chakrabarty Sengupta
Some of the pics taken on that day are as given below, unfortunately only the pretty ladies and bright kids were captured, the hunks were missed out ;-)

Posing outside

Another one, inside this time

Yet another lovely capture

Smoked Salmon  Eggs Benedict

Chicken Rosti