Pujos have always been the Bongsnob's snooty way of ensuring the live-it-up-and-don't-go-to-work for five days straight. What religious occasion demands no sacrifice (no fasting, no shave-head), expects no particular performance to prove your undying loyalty, and gives you a ticket to simply- fun?!
Of course, I have always maintained that Pujo is a middle-class indulgence- of opulent shopping, of bunking work, of overeating a little more, of carefree intellectual masturbation sessions at pandals. That said, I have been reminiscing about the various things that Pujos have represented for me through the years. Vanity, for instance, has always been a very Pujo-thing. For five days, I feel terribly deck-up-floosie and demure-vain. To the extent, that heels are pulled out a day in advance and kept aside, and hair-washes are timed right and arguments are carried out with Ma over what goes with what.
Flirting, is certainly a Pujo special. Like costume-drama foreplay at dinners, lunches, adda sessions- simpering to the boy's mother (who will invariably be some discerning Kakima). The boys that pulled pigtails last year, became antakshari buddies this year, and would become (ahem) Boyfriends next year, and would be away finishing semester exams during Pujos a few years hence. Would be Stopping By on the way from London to Hong Kong a few years thereafter. And would be showing off Bong Kultur to their German wives the next year.
Pujos are chronicles. Of heartbreaks and childbirths. Of Boyfriends who are not in the country to buy you Phuchkaa anymore. Best Friends who got married and moved and are no more giggle-and-look-coy buddies. Of grandmothers who are not well enough to cook Ilish Maach anymore. Of brothers and sisters who don't bicker any more. Of kakimas who stopped buying jaamdani saris, since their husbands died. Of homes fading away and homelands changing addresses.