The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Itsy-bitsy story #1

"You don't know her for long. What makes you think of her so much? She's not pretty or attractive, right?"

"Right. But she is unlike anyone I've met so far."


"She can laugh at herself."

#MicroFiction #ShortShortStory #MicroStory #FlashFiction

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The ISKCON Rathayatra 2018

This was my first encounter with the Rathayatra conducted by ISKCON in the city as my new office is close to its temple on Albert Road. When I reached the temple at around 3.40 pm, the Rathayatra had just set off. The route was: Albert Road - Hungerford Street - Sarat Bose Road - Hazra Road - Hazra Crossing - Ashutosh Mukherjee Road - Jawaharlal Nehru Road (Chowringhee) - Brigade Parade Ground. The pandal at Brigade Parade Ground will remain seven days. After that there will be a return of the procession to Albert Road called Ulta Rathayatra ('Ulta' means return) on a different route via Esplanade on 22nd July.

Albert Road-Hungerford Street

There are three 'ratha's (chariot)- One each for lord Jagannatha, his brother Balaram (alias Balabhadra/ Baldev) and sister Subhadra. A huge procession takes place around these three and it is witnessed by thousands of devotees and general public.

Albert Road-Hungerford Street

Albert Road-Hungerford Street
(The above pictures are sourced from a colleague)

I am confessing herein that, to me, the best part of a puja is its prasad. I came to know from a colleague of this group called Baldev Group (Dedicated to lord Baldev) which was to distribute prasad bhog (rice-based prasad) on the occasion. I, accompanied by a support staff, set out again from the office for the prasad. The distribution would be from a spot on Sarat Bose Road. The ratha (chariot) procession was moving down that road then with huge crowd witnessing it from the side and scores of devotees joining others in pulling the ropes of the ratha. A lot of young photography enthusiasts climbed the road dividers for a vantage point.

One of the three rathas

I figured out the venue in the middle of a thick crowd. Volunteers of the group were distributing sherbats to the people gathered. Devotees from the group had cooked several units of chappan bhog (Literally an assortment of 56 items from starter to dessert) to offer the deities before distributing as prasad. I saw the units placed on table tops being carried to the deity and brought back.

Chhappan Bhog on way to be offered to the ratha of Lord Balabhadra (Balaram)

The distribution started soon after, while the procession was still on, from the Pabrai's ice cream parlour. And it was exciting! One could pick up any one bowl/ plate/ pot and take it away. I was choosy as we had to pick up a proper bhog for sharing it among colleagues back in the office. My colleague picked up a pot of khichdi topped with fried vegetables and it had my smiling approval. I was looking for a good finishing dish and spotted a bowl of kheer and wasted no time to pick it up. We left immediately and it soon started pouring. 

I was happy for this experience despite the long walk to the prasad venue at Sarat Bose Road and back to the office in the drizzle. Everyone in the office was happy to share the delicious bhog.

#ISKCON #Rathayatra #RathayatraKolkata #Rathayatra2018 #RathayatraKolkata2018

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