Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pujo and Bhojan

It was the mid 1960s. India was trying to get over the teething problems after independence. With some of the five year plans in place, India was on its path for development. The large country was in the process of rediscovering itself. People from various parts pf India came to the big towns and the nascent townships that mushroomed around industries and other projects. A nation that has more than 15 recognised languages and hundreds of dialects is a real melting pot and more so were these small towns to which young Indians flocked to in search of work, better life and with a zeal to be part of nation making.

In one such small mining township, young Chandrashekar lived. His wife was expecting their first baby and had gone to their native place in Tamil Nadu for the delivery. He lived in the quarters that the central government had built for the miners. For the last one month he was on his own. Sometimes he used to eat at the small south Indian hotel. Most of the days, he made his own survival food with bread and eggs.

One Thursday, his neighbour, Mr. Bhattacharya knocked at his door.
“Kal hamare yahan pujo aur bhojan hai. Aap jarur aana”
[Tommorow, we have pooja and food at our house. Please come]

Chandrashekhar was overjoyed with the invite. He looked forward to some home cooked, even if it was not south Indian. His was not a position to choose.

The next day, he came home, had a shower, wore appropriate pooja clothes and was at his neighbour’s. Most of the invitees were Bengalis who were happily singing Bengali bhajans. Like most Bengali households, Mr. Bhattacharya too had a harmonium. The couple led the singing. The pooja arati was over by around 8.30pm.

The host and wife did the arati and distributed sweets as the Prasad among the invitees. The small crowd soon made little groups and were conversing away as if it was the only day left to exchange the pleasantries. Poor Chandrashekhar had the language barrier. He stood by himself in a corner.

Seeing him alone, Mrs. Bhattacharya came forward and asked, “Did you get the Prasad? How is your wife? When is the due date?”

To which Chandrashekhar replied dutifully, “ Yes. She is fine. January 10th”

Soon Mr.Bhattacharya joined them.
“ Thank You, Mr. Chandrashekhar for coming along. Did you get the Prasad?”

Chandrashekar nodded. From the corner of his eye, he could see that some of the guests were leaving. Why are they leaving? What about the food?, he thought.
But it was quite evident that the evening’s programme was over.

Just then the host said, “You might not have understood the meaning of the Bhojans we sang. Did you like the Bengali bhojans?”

It was now very clear. Hunger for the night made Chandrashekhar understand all the bhajans.

Bhajans are songs in praise of God
Bhojan means meal
Pujo or pooja is a prayer


  1. are you the little baby that was born to chandrashekhar and his wife on the 10th of jan?

  2. loved the did u come up wit it.
    and absolutely loved the way u wrote bongs speak in hindi...i cud actually hear it in the back of my mind!!

  3. Ha ha yes sometimes language gets our hopes high while the reality brings them down :) Graet one KK keep up!!!

  4. Lol...who is the poor Chandrashekhar?
    The baby born on Jan 10th can't be you, like Sujatha pointed out. Or is it?
    Haha..the complexities of the 'o' sound of bengali...
    Loved the story.

  5. Sujata
    No. I am not the baby and Iam from Kerala. Iam couple of years younger.:) But as you say on the wrong side of thirty.

    I have been listening. There are so many of these little anecdotes. Just try recollecting some of yours.

    A New Beginning
    And in India, we come across all kinds. God bless the country and the languages. Amen

    Destiny's Child
    Let him be. You will more of his stories though. And my birth certificate is original. No, I wasn't born on jan 10th, you know that. and by the way , bring something to drink (no hollow cheers allowed)

  6. hahah...lovely!! Same language is spoken differently in different regions...actually its the hangover of their mother tongue that changes their pronounciation!!

    Nice blog...!!

  7. Oh the language dilemma!! I wonder what he did for dinner that day!
    Yet another excellent post, KK!

  8. Nazish Rahman
    True. But it is fun when we hear it. But the younger generation has less of it as most of them learn Hindi at school. Thanks for coming by.

    Novice Writer
    I was wondering where you were. happy to see your encouraging comment.

  9. too good...i can empathise with his plight!!;)

  10. Mathew
    Thanks for coming by.Always welcome.