My ancestral home is under Khandaghosh P.S., its an old single storied home, atleast a few hundred years old, surrounded by ruins of earlier abodes. The scenery is simply mind blowing.
On one side there is river damodar with its vast spread banks of sand and small gardens, on the other sides are ruins and empty land.
I have been to the Kalipuja a few times only because the place is not very safe, but the memory of those puja is never to be erased from my heart and mind.
Kalipuja starts at midnight of the amavasya and the idol is immersed on bhaiphonta aka bhaidooj. We I, my two siblings and my uncle used to land in home at about noon of Kalipuja, after that my uncle used to leave to locate the purohit and see if the preparations are going in the right direction, and we used to fish out the pradeeps to clean them up and fill them with oil, and after the dusk has settled in, we used to place them with the help of others. I still rue the lack of a good camera, by which we could take the snap of that marvelous picture which those lighted pradeeps used to make at night.
Those of you who have a little imagination can just close your eyes and imagine a very old house surrounded by utter darkness, and only the house is lighted with simmering pradeeps, lined up beautifully against the dark sky and the dark surroundings. I still can see that scene after ten years in my mind’s eye.
After the puja used to start we used to gather in the pujamandap with handcounted villagers, who used to sacrifice the funs of crackers to attend the puja. The pujamandap used to be dimly lit, with a couple of lanterns and petromaxes (a lantern like think which burns atleast fifty times brighter). And we used to silently sit there watching the puja.
I used to slip out before the balidan, and go to the home, and sit at the gate, silently watching the people of Burdwan bursting crackers. Because the only thing between Burdwan and my village was vast bank of Damodar river and the river itself. That’s a non forgettable memory. Not a single soul any where, just me and the silent surroundings. The sky full of stars, a silent dark row of ruined rooms where once was atithishala, and our own ancestor’s abodes, a sleepy riverbank lined by trees, the sky full of light of firecrackers.
We used to return the next morning, the purohit used to take care of the puja of the remaining two days, and the bisarjan.