Come September and the Bengali hearts across the globe begin to beat in excitement to usher in the Bengali Durga puja with the magical voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra, the rolling of the Dhaker kathi and the melody of the Bengali Pujor Gaan. This is the time when households start re-living memories of ‘how it used to be in our times!’
A favourite line that I use with my 10 year old is the one that reflects my love for Bengali music since childhood. “I belonged to a generation that was more eager for a “Sharodiya” magazine (the magazine that carried the lyrics of the newly released Bengali songs during Durga puja) than his new dresses and shoes,” I tell him as he stares at me in wide-eyed wonder. “The Bengali new durga puja song?” he asks me in his recently learnt English, “What is that Baban?” Yes, of course, he wouldn’t know.
Why he wouldn’t know is something that we are all discussing these days. Naturally, that is not what one could share with a 10 year old. What I share with him are the stories. Especially those stories that have to do with Bengali music and Durga Puja.
Stories of the new Bengali Durga puja songs
My son knows the names of artistes and songs by now. I tell him how it was always Durga Puja, when musicians and singers from all over India would come out with their Puja releases of the year in Bengal.
The stories move on to how many of these Puja Songs, later turned into Hindi Jewels and vice versa and then I make him listen to the duos – “Jete Daao Aamay” & “Jaane Do Mujhe”, “Ghum Bhulechhi Nijhum”& “Hum Bekhudi Mein”, “Oliro Katha Shune”& “Na Jao Saiyaan” and so on. Then there is the tale of how the classic Bengali Pujo song “O akaash Pradip Jwelona”, was composed by Hemanta Mukherjee, but its Sanchari (an integral part of a song) was set to tune by another stalwart Sri Nachiketa Ghosh.
There is yet another trivia that my son wants to hear of two of his favourite artistes Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. He listens avidly to how the two tuned two songs for each other in 1974. Kishore Kumar composed two Puja numbers “Bhalobashar Aagun Jwele” and “Ki Likhi Tomay for Lataji and in return the Nightingale composed two for the baritone maverick – “Aami Nei” and “Taare Aami Chokhe Dekhini”.
And hoping there would be new stories to come…
As we spin these stories of Bengali music together, I cannot help but feel a sense of pride that by my limited means, I am able to kindle the spirit of the Bengali Durga puja in my son. I keep hoping that soon his generation will have new stories, new melodies and new Bengali durga puja songs to sing to each other as Bengali music begins to embrace the digital age.
Nachiketa Ghosh by AajKaal Publishers