Source : Times of India
CHENNAI: For a few Bengalis in the city, Durga puja begins more than a month early. Working professionals make their way home early, children hastily finish studies and homemakers wrap up the day’s work to come together for an adda session interrupted only by serious plans about how to showcase in-house talent on stage on the four days the goddess is celebrated.
Brainstorming over cups of tea and snacks, it is the hour-long stage plays, mostly comedies, which members of the various Bengali associations in the city look forward to. “It’s like an extended adda session which we hold in a member’s home on alternate weekdays and over weekends,” says Somojit Ghosh of Dakshini Society in Anna Nagar. For the retired 64-year-old, it is an excuse to socialize. “For older members like me this is one of the busiest and exciting times of the year. Members of all ages gather after 8pm and over singharas (samosas) and tea begin ideating,” says Ghosh, who is acting in the comedy ‘Kanchi’, to be staged on October 18. Another comedy, ‘Sunch’ (needle), is slated for October 17.
Comedy plays and socialization are also the priority at the puja organized by South Madras Cultural Association in Besant Nagar. “We have had serious debates over the theme and the interpretation of the plays that went on till midnight,” says Bhaswar Mukherjee, president of SMCA. “Though comedies we try to also send a message, so we used to have endless discussions on the modern take, interpretation of the adaptation of the plays we are enacting,” says Mukherjee, director of ‘Jeebon-dot-com’, on the loss of family values and consumerism, to be staged on Tuesday. “It’s a chance to reconnect with our literary and creative side which is lost in our everyday routine,” he says, adding that engagement over these cultural activities not only strengthens community bonds but also takes them back to their roots, especially for youngsters who are staging ‘Shyal Pandit’ this year. “Some children have given up the Enid Blyton’s for our home-grown ‘Nonte-Phonte’, which is heart-warming,” says Mukherjee.
Performing arts are a way to revive interest in culture especially among children, feels Archita Patra of Dakshin Chennai Prabasi Cultural Association on OMR, “My 7-year-old knows Tamil and English but can only speak in Bengali. After taking part in the play for children ‘Icha Puron’ by Rabindranath Tagore, she got to know about him,” says Patra, who is also taking part in ‘Otho Sworgo Bichitra’, a comic take on modern life through the eyes of god, to be staged on October 17. The cast includes a Menon couple. “The activities around Durga puja are a celebration of all things Bengali which includes, food, rituals, literary inclination and the constant chatter. As a Malayalee who loves the Bengali language and people it was the perfect engagement,” says Jaipal Menon in his clear Bengali accent.