For Bengalis, Durga Puja has always been the event of the year. Our wait for Ma Durga begins the moment the dark monsoon skies begin to clear and azure sunlight takes their place. Durga Puja is synonymous with many things- coral jasmines, or as Bengalis love to call them-‘Shiuli’s, new clothes, the kaash flower, and of course, Pujor Gaan. Bengali culture has always placed special importance on music, and the Pujor Gaan, or new Bengali music released specially during Durga Puja is an integral aspect of it. For generations, popular Bengali artistes and musicians have released these songs during Durga Puja. In fact, many artistes gained fame and recognition once they released music during Durga Puja. Durga Puja is indeed, incomplete, without new Bengali music.
The Bengali song during Durga Puja: Trending long before the days of twitter
Why has the Bengali Durga Puja music captured the collective Bengali imagination so strongly? What is it about new Bengali music during Durga Puja that makes it so special to us? Is it the nostalgia we associate with it? Or is it the sense of novelty we find in the new music. Durga Puja is a time when we celebrate the old while creating the new. New Bengali music during Durga Puja has always set trends. It has remained within the tradition, but broken existing moulds. It has exposed the music loving Bengali audience to new sounds, fresh rhythms. Bengalis have loved and appreciated what artistes have painstakingly crafted for them to listen. This is a time of interaction and give and take between artistes and their audience. The festive mood creates the right ambience for these connections to be strengthened.
Where is the Pujo song of the new-age Bengali?
But what has happened to this practice in the 21st century? There seems to be a lull in the way this tradition has been carried out for generations. Is the new age Bengali no longer a lover of music? Is s/he merely a visitor to “Theme Pujas”? Has s/she forgotten the true spirit of Durga Puja, of rootedness and of togetherness?
Can we not revive this tradition using the very tools that distinguish us from older generations? On our tablets, smart phones, iPads- can we not usher in new Bengali music that will help us revel in the richness of our own culture? Can we not make good use of our gadgets to treasure a unique tradition rarely seen in any other part of the world? Can we not plug-in our earphones, switch on our blue-tooth speakers, click on our laptops and listen to the Bengali song during Durgapuja, as we hear the Dhaak beats echoing through the white clouds floating by outside our windows?
“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind…”