Why Poila Baisakh’s celebrations in the “new normal” are not the same

Noboborsho mornings are particularly engraved in my memory. For a day at least, Mom wouldn’t have to fool me into waking me up early and screaming that it was past early in the morning or turning off the fan to wake me up. I would almost jump out of bed and prepare to accompany her to the morning procession or “Prabhat feri”, with other neighborhood enthusiasts.

We all gathered at a predetermined location from 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and walked the nearby alleys singing Esho Hey Baisakh Where Hey Nutan, screaming through the megaphones, our hearts overflowing with pride in being a Bengali. The procession would end with a short program where children, women dressed in cotton sarees and gajra and men in pajamas, recite poems, sing and dance, after rehearsing for at least a week.

This year there was no para (neighborhood) meetings or dance or music rehearsals for our long-awaited Prabhat Feri. After spending 2020 Noboborsho under lockdown in another city, the chance to be able to celebrate the New Year at home this time around was a real relief. Having lived away from home for a long time now, such instances of seasonal homecoming may be what makes you feel connected to your roots – reliving your childhood rituals may be what gives you a feeling. familiarity and warmth, something you crave and want to come back to time after time.

People may have to miss the processions this time. (Express photo / file)

With the vaccines rolled out, Noboborsho 2021 was meant to be a revival of those familiar New Year’s rituals, or at least hoped for. But while our family, friends and loved ones eagerly awaited Poila Baisakh, even in the midst of the electoral frenzy – some awaited the return of their son or daughter from another state, some were finally planning to pay this visit to a relative they had been postponing from last year – coronavirus cases have increased across the country, this time with new variants and challenges, leaving us with a sense of déjà vu, albeit not a pleasant one.

And for people like me, who can’t wait to fuel their ‘Bangaliana‘On these special occasions, the COVID tragedy shattered hopes for another year.

Attend nearby para cultural programs, hour-long open music concerts at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata and other auditoriums, or watching a much talked about play intended to awaken the mind and spirit of a Bangali, were some of the highlights of Poila Baisakh. But according to the “new normal”, this time too, most of the events have become virtual.

Not to mention the Bengali-special Poila Baisakh delicacies. A typical Noborborsho breakfast at home means luchi and aloo Where chholar dal (chana dal) with Jalebi. Lunch cannot be complete without kosha mangsho. Homemade dishes will also be appreciated this time, but the highly anticipated pujo animal‘with friends at his favorite restaurant may not be the same anymore. Whether it’s being on the alert in case you get too close to whoever is in front or behind in the huge queue outside the restaurant, to panicking about disinfection. appropriate of the table and the dishes, there are a lot of things that get in your way. Even the regulars tv bhaja (pakodas) or lebu cha (lemon black tea) sold by chaiwallahs in aluminum kettles in city hotspots cannot be consumed carelessly.

Poila Baisakh last year was steeped in the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic. A year later, the fear persists, but most of us are at least trying to make our peace with life today, preparing ourselves for challenges without breaking down. As performers move from stage to virtual channels, audiences will dress in new clothes – possibly purchased online – and tune in to watch their favorite celebrity perform live but from the other side. of the screen.

Distant relatives and friends, who were unable to return home this time around, will be greeted through video calls. The gifts will be sent through online portals. And all that would be left after a delicious Bengali meal, would be to grab some pillows and soak in ‘bhaat ghoom’ (Siesta).

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