Friday, October 15, 2010

Puja Chronicles contd. A magical allowance

This day has always had a special resonance. Mahashtami (the eighth day in the Debipokkho). This was the day, when, decked in new clothes, we (my sister and myself) sat on the broad stair at the foot of the staircase with our feet resting on some old newspapers. Our grandma would sit on the floor to apply alta (a  red liquid), outlining our feet.
alta adorned foot of a bride

This was messy since it meant we would have to wait till it dried or else our footprints would follow us wherever we went. As we grew older, the mess seemed less in the outer world and more in the inner world. The mind would get busy contemplating whether we are moving to adulthood by wearing alta like the elder women. But throughout, the singular exciting part of this kumari puja was that we received sweets and ten rupees each after the alta wearing ceremony. What little things give us joy! 
Kumari Puja
As the years passed and we grew older, though, customarily, the kumari puja stopped, yet we continued to receive the monetary allowance on this day. We bargained with Dida (that's what we called our paternal grandma) to increase our Kumari Puja allowance with hilarious outcome. It was amusing each year although the same sequence of events took place.
Since we were no more 'kumaris' ritualistically, she would initially refuse to give us the allowance, stating the obvious - that since there's no more ritual, there would be no more allowance either. But we kept following her around and pestered her. My  kakima (aunt) would join in and re-enforced our demand. Dida would lose her cool sometimes. My baba would try to be a peace-enforcer by volunteering to pay the allowance. But we refused stoically. Finally, Dida was cajoled, by everyone in the family, to give us our allowance. What joy we felt, although the allowance never crossed the twenty rupees benchmark. It was not about the amount we received. Just the pure magic of being a pestering grand-child.  

Photo courtesy: 
'alta adorned foot of a bride' © Self


sup said...

"As we grew older, the mess seemed less in the outer world and more in the inner world." :)

For almost all of us, as we look back to our childhood, relation with our grandparents was one of the guaranteed magics of childhood - isn't so?

Susmita said...

yes ... the lives we-have-never-been-to that they 'story'-d about was the most mesmerising part of it all :)

Somdatta Bhattacharya said...

To each of us, rituals have their own significance, customised. And definitely economics cannot be overlooked. :)

Susmita said...

so true :D