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October 5, 2009

I was there!

I did make it to the Durga pujo finale yesterday, held in Oakleigh. While I understand that comparisons to Delhi's Chit Park are stupid and there weren't as many people here, it was quite awesome to see so many Bengalis in Melbourne. :)

It was a perfect Sunday, the sun was out, the wind under control (can get quite mad here) and families milling about with kids, parents, pets and everyone wanting a bit of the sunshine. So there on Drummond street you had Melburnians wearing their typical uniform -- assorted clothing in greys and blacks -- and jogging or walking or doing their thing. And then a couple of cars stop outside the Oakleigh (Mechanical) Hall and out step women wearing bright saris (one was bright-bordering-on-fluoro orange with silver sequins all over), HUGE bindis, lovely gold bangles, shanka-pola and kids wearing the tiniest of dhuti-panjabis.

I was expecting cars to screech to a halt and everyone to stare: Here were Indians being 'flashy', speaking in their native tongue and clearly not integrating. Since Oakleigh is a Greek-majority area and the pujo venue was right next to an Egyptian church, I was pleasantly surprised when Drummond street happily carried on with its business and no Indian was beaten. :) So much for Australia being a racist country... I wish the media would look at the positives as well when it goes on harping about the nasty things.

The first question I was asked? "Tumi Kolkatar mei?" (Are you a Kolkata girl?) My response was of course that I'm not and I'm a probasi* Bangali, to which I was instantly introduced to a couple of other girls who were probasis. Now probasi means expatriat and I found it quite amusing that even though we were all sitting in Melbourne, there was the usual
Kolkata-or-probasi introductions.

My internet search had led to two pujo links: one by the Bengali Association of Victoria (BAV) and another by the Bengali Puja and Cultural Society of Victoria (BPCSV); I ended up going to the second one. The ladies I met there were very curious and very friendly and despite not knowing me at all, were quite ready to 'refer' me to their association. They were also very sweet to Partner, who was the only white person in the pujo hall. And no, he wasn't stared at either. Who says all Indians stare? ;)

And after five years, I finally participated in the pushpanjali ceremony. Strange that it should happen so far away from home... All in all, a very happy event and a rather long, eventful day after that. Satisfied.

12 comments:

Shrey said...

:) your post brought a big smile on my face on a sad Monday morning...
I am so glad that you got to celebrate Pujo, have a great Diwali too :)

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Shrey: You're such a darling Shrey...thanks for the advance Diwali wishes, I'm hoping to have a good one. :) Wish you a blast as well.

Passionate Goof said...

Oh lovely! But how was this yesterday? Wasn't Pujo over on the 29th?

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Goofy: Yup it was, but guess it's either some sort of a calendar difference or convenience or community orders ... they celebrate naumi yesterday.

Jaya said...

Jhumur,
wish you a very happy and shubho bijoya...and it was good to read this post :)...and i am glad you had a nice time there......
hugs and smiles

Deepti said...

Great post jb .. more we move away from our roots they more they tug us towards them :)

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Jaya: Wish you a shubho bijoya too and glad you made it here as well. :)

@ Deepti: you are so right about that. Distance makes the heart grow fonder eh? ;)

the mad momma said...

LOL! I like the probashi distinction even while living abroad!! trust you to pick up on it.

Sree said...

your skin is glowing. wht do u do???

Sparkling said...

:)

Satisfied. Nice word :)
I'm glad you had a good pujo.

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Momma: :D for some bizarre reason, i sign into wordpress but cannot get to your blog. you blocked me?!

@ Sree: I eat. It shows. :) And anyway it's the light me thinks..

@ sparkling: Am glad too. :) What's up?

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Awww babe! You got yours! I'm so glad!! Ashchey bochhor aabaar hobey, kintu kothai hobey?

I hope one year you decide to spend it in Kolkata with me!

Shubho bijoya!