The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Time for fun, friends and family

Then (Sourav): My first memory of Durga Puja dates back to 1978, when as a five-year-old, I remember the excitement of wearing new clothes and spending time at the para puja. But my most memorable association with the Puja during those days was my revolver. For, this was the time when I would be constantly ‘armed’ and would continuously burst those ‘cap’ crackers. I would spend a lot of time at the puja pandal in my para — Barisha Player’s Corner — and I remember hanging out mostly with the older boys of the locality.

Then (Dona): Durga puja always meant wearing new clothes, eating out and spending time at the para puja (the same as Sourav’s). It has always been a time for fun, to be spent with family and friends.

Now (Sourav): After becoming committed to cricket, I have hardly had the chance to spend a full Puja in Calcutta. Several Durga pujas have been spent on overseas tours, when one hardly realises that the festival has come and gone. But whenever I have got the chance, I have made it a point to enjoy every moment of it. Most of my time is spent at the para puja, with which I am quite involved. I take an active interest in this puja and do what I can in my personal and professional capacity to make it memorable. The four days go by catching up with family and friends.

Now (Dona): Since my marriage, we’ve almost always been on the move during this time of the year. I’ve spent the Pujas in so many different places that now it’s difficult to keep track. But I remember that the first year after our marriage, I was in Delhi, where, unlike Calcutta, there are lots of cultural functions during the festivities. The same holds true for Mumbai… As for Pujas spent abroad, accompanying Sourav on tour, I remember the times spent in Harare and Toronto.

Durga Puja 2003 (Sourav): This time, I am home for the entire Pujas, before leaving for Ahmedabad on Dashami. I plan to spend my time almost entirely at home or at the para pandal.

Durga Puja 2003 (Dona): For once, Sourav will be here for one more day than me during the Pujas. I leave on Navami for a function in Mumbai. From there, I’ll join Sourav in Ahmedabad. But there’s a lot happening on all the Puja days. Sashthi is reserved for the thakur ghore puja, that keeps me busy almost all day. On Saptami, there’s the ESPN programme at Barisha Player’s Corner. The whole thing will have to be monitored from home, and I’ll have to make sure everything goes off smoothly till the guests leave.

This will be a special puja for Sana. She is a year-and-a-half now and she will be able to enjoy herself. She has seen me perform as Durga on stage, so she often says “amaar ma Durga”. She is quite intrigued by the goddess in the pandal, though I feel she is more fascinated by the asur and the baagh. She spends a lot of time imitating “asur marchhe”, “baagh haan korchhe”…

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