Posts in Category: Pune

A new day…… a new beginning…… start of a new year!!! Happy 2015

Durga Puja 2014

 

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Durga Puja is the biggest festival for Bengalis all over the world. Wherever there are Bengalis there is bound to be at least one puja. I grew up 1000s of km away from bengal. I have never seen the Durga Puja in Kolkata. For me this is very grand. When I was young we had three pujas in my city. Now there are almost 20 of them, with the home puja celebrating its 75th year. It is the time that Bengalis believe that Ma Durga visits her mothers house with her children and pets for 5 days. Strangely for us bengalis these days Durga puja is not much about the rituals of the puja but more of the fun around it. Could be our Communist heritage 😀 .

Puja always meant a lot. It was a shift away from the mundane life to an exciting interesting and different life that we led for 5 days. Puja meant new clothes, new shoes, lots of junk food (which I was never allowed) and watching functions…. plays, ballets, orchestras, musical shows, dance dramas and Bengali movies till the wee hours of the morning, only to go back for a few hours of shut-eye and be back for the pushpanjali. Functions had orchestras and artistes from Kolkata introducing the likes of me to new genres of music. I fell in love with folk music because of its rustic nature and I loved the no pretense song of the heart.

Durga Puja was a time when I was reminded of my Bengali roots and learned everything Bengali in those 5 short days. Bengali food, Bengali sarees, Bengali love for politics and football, Bengali debates on everything, Bengali adda etc…. Rest of the year I spoke Bengali only at home with my parents and sisters. It was mostly English Hindi and Marathi. On these 5 days since we interacted with so many more Bengalis and spoke the language on a 24 hour basis…… the language improved considerably. The puja is almost like a fashion show with the men and women strutting around in their best clothes jewellery and makeup. Saris of Katha, tangail, silk, organza, embroidery, baluchari, south silks, muga, etc etc all can be seen on these days. Men wear kurtas and dhoti or churidar of cotton silk embroidered batik. There is no limit to what you wear on these days. You can easily get away looking like a rainbow or a peacock or a jewellery store or something out of the 17th century. Nobody will raise an eyebrow….. These 5 days everything is allowed….. no rules.

On the home front nobody cooks these 5 days. The kitchen is closed. Lunch is usually bhog of khichdi labda tomato chutney and payesh at the pandal. Ashtami is special. It usually has a different menu of fried rice and aloo gobi and beguni. All of this in the Puja Pandal. Dinner is usually a wide array of junk food of biryanis, chicken cutlets, or mochar chop, devilled eggs, or radhabalabi and chole. Not to mention the famous bengali sweets…..  rosogolla, chamcham, sandesh, ladyginni, chitrakoot, langcha etc etc. The food list is endless. In between all this you keep sipping tea and soft drinks icecreams and some or the other fried stuff and sweets. Basically these 5 days all rules of all kinds are broken.

Durga Puja is fun frolic something I wait for all year. The 5 days pass so quickly…… and I am always heartbroken to see Ma Durga go back only with a promise of returning back the next year.

Durga Puja is always so colorful and bright. I tried to monochrome three of the pics and still keep the essence of the whole festival in black and white.

Elegant beauty……. Dance poses

Moony stories.

Shaniwarwada, Pune

Shaniwarwada is an iconic building of my city….. Pune. Built in 1746, this building was the official residence of the Peshwa, the ministers of the Maratha kingdom. It is a world heritage site…… and a landmark for the city of Pune…. more details about its history here.

When I think of putting one picture to represent Pune it would be this building. A lot of stories lurk around the corners of this building. Stories of love hate betrayal. Even today it is an adventure to a small child to explore the nooks and crannies and secret passageways in this building. My favorite part of the building is without doubt the Mastani mahal. It is very easy to get lost in the beauty of this building. The building was burnt down in 1828. You still can see traces of the burn in some parts of the building. The original structure had beautiful paintings depicting the mahabharata, which were burnt down in the fire. Some traces of the painting can still be seen in some parts of the entrance or the Dilli Darwaza.
 

I have spent a lot of my childhood visiting the wada or building. A favorite of mine and a must visit for any tourist.

Looking Down

Looking beyond

I took this pic at Shaniwarwada, the iconic monument in Pune. If you ask me to picturise Pune in one picture it would be Shaniwarwada. This pic is taken at one of the balconies in Mastani Mahal.

Shaniwarwada was the official residence of the Peshwas, the ministers of the Maratha kingdom. Mastani was his mistress……. The love story of Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani is immortal. Devout Hindu Brahmin and powerful minister of the Maratha kingdom falls in love with the beautiful Muslim dancer and the rest is history.

Mastani’s beauty has been described as a very fair woman with translucent skin and beautiful eyes. Bajirao’s love for Mastani turned out to be the thorn in his life for which he was chastised by his entire family, his peers and the entire Maratha kingdom. Mastani too bore the brunt of the family and the Pune and she was made to live in the quarters over the main door of the wada (Building) she also had her own private entrance. This was where she would wait for her Peshwa….. yearning to meet him.

This pic is taken just at that location. From these arches you can see the entire of the Wada (Building): the gardens, what used to be the buildings, the gates and the fountains.

Studies today have shown that Mastani was infact the princess of a neighboring kingdom which the Peshwa had won over and she was infact his wife not his mistress. You can read more about it HERE.

A little piece of nature…… Panorama

Aarati

A Man Lifting a blue plastic sheet.

Sky watch : Caught between the wires

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