Season of Bengali Literature - Puja Barshiki

Durga Puja is that awesome period of the year, when a bong gets all its creative energy in full force, be it in creating beautiful idols of Durga, or the superb pandals, or the volume of literature that gets churned out. 

I started getting my staple of Puja barshiki from my early childhood via Anandamela. It used to have nice illustrations (that used to attract the eyes before checking the author list) and the fantastic stories of Kakababu and so on. It was a ritual to try to copy the front cover drawing of Durga from Anandamela. Over the years, one of my realization regarding literature - children remember the name of the story, while adults remember the name of the author.

We used to get almost all the Puja specials at our home - my father and jethus and kakus used to consult with each other before buying, so that there was no duplicate copy of a Desh. Being a joint family, we used to get access to all these books without going to any library. You may envy to know that we used to have atleast 10 (or more) of them starting from Anandabazar, Desh, Aajkal, Sandesh, Suktara, Statesman, Bartaman, the leftist magazines, the rightist ones and so on. Anandalok was strictly banned so that the little ones don't get morally screwed up. But we had our way of getting it with external help :-)

The little ones were allowed to check Desh only for the Feluda story by Satyajit Ray. Desh was a regular magazine in our household, which I have seen from the time I can remember anything - it used to be a weekly, then fortnightly, then again weekly and so on, before we decided that Desh was losing its literary value and stopped subscribing couple of years back. But Desh was the first magazine in our childhood which gave us flavor of literature meant for big guys. That's another story for another day. 

These days, Anandabazar house has increased the number of Puja Barshikis to a great extent. They come out with Anandamela, Desh, Patrika, Anandalok, Sanada and possibly many more - they have something or the other for all the target groups. But if you want to try out different flavors of literature, there are those other brands like Pratidin, Bartaman and also the small magazines. 

There is a good number of people who blindly go for one of these brands, while there are others who search for a particular author and buy the one which has a story from him/her. During our college days, Joy Goswami used to be the star amongst the intellectuals. I remember, for a couple of years I chose between Anandabazar and Desh depending upon who is carrying his Uponyash. 

There is a standard snobbery which prevails upon the readers - Puja barshiki works are not of good quality as the authors churn out too many things in too less a time. There is some truth in it possibly. However there are classics which have come out of the Puja barshikis also. My take - keep aside the snobbery, and get submerged into the sea of literature. Its a unique phenomenon - you don't get to see such a spike in any other regional language literature consumption during any other part of the year. Just buy your favorite one and have a happy Puja.

* The Feluda image is obviously by Satyajit Ray - tribute to him. The Durga image is from last year, taken by yours truly.

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