A new Bengali group has found community over fresh water fish, spicy puffed rice and, of course, Durga Puja, writes Prince Frederick
If one sound is assigned to every linguistic community, who gets the long O? Meeting a linguistic group at OMR, I have difficulty writing down their names. They are mostly common Indian names. But they sound as if they’ve had a quick makeover with just one tool, the long O.
“Replace all the As with Os, and you’ll never go wrong,” laughs Kaustav Sengupta, a member of the newly-forged Bengali group, Dakshin Chennai Prabasi Cultural Association (DCPCA). It is associated with the extended areas in the south, including OMR, ECR and Tambaram.
During the meeting, the usual suspects show up. When the humour over the use, actually overuse, of the long O, tapers away, an animated discussion about freshwater fish takes over. Jhal Muri, sondesh, art, literature and, of course, Durga Puja also join the parade of topics. Not in that order, though. In fact, Durga Puja dominates the conversation.
The group, which consists of 55 families, is celebrating the festival at Gem Inn, a resort on OMR from September 29 to October 4, and they are excited about it. Corporate sponsors are on board. The Puja at the resort, which many think is unprecedented, at least in these parts, is expected to further unify this young group.
The group was formed primarily due to the efforts of Sanjay Dhol, president of the Association, to have a ‘Jhal Muri’ going in DLF, Semmenchery, with four to five families.
For the Bengali, Jhal Muri, a spicy rice puff preparation, is a synonym for communion, conversation and community.
“It is our version of popcorn. On a Sunday, friends and family settle down for a chat, Jhal Muri in hand,” says Sujit Paul.
The Jhal Muri began to spill out of the bowl and started expanding when Sanjay’s wife Mahua Dhol met Koel Ghosh at a restaurant on OMR.
“Through Anupam and Koel Ghosh, we met people at Hiranandani, who joined. Then came people from Akshaya Adora. And then, others from other places,” explains Sanjay.
Women have been the driving force. They have been inviting their friends. They have also been inviting their colleagues. They have been active on WhatsApp, enlisting new members.
The group began to connect over favourite topics, including fresh water fish.
“When one Bengali meets another, he’ll ask, ‘Where can I find good sweet water fish?’” laughs Swapnonil Bose.
“The desire to have a grand Durga Puja has largely drawn us together,” says Chinmoy Dey.
Earlier, celebrating Durga Puja meant making the long trip to Besant Nagar or T. Nagar. The group is just as keen on celebrating Saraswathi Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Diwali and other festivals, in their backyard.
“Against the backdrop of religious festivals, this group celebrates arts, culture, literature and learning,” says Lily Sengupta. A factor that is bound to encourage membership.
In April, the Association was registered. Since then, it has been growing steadily. Even non-Bengalis are drawn to it. “Some of them were born and brought up in Kolkata,” says Sanjay.
Members believe the element of informality and the ability to connect with people outside the natural contours of the group, are what is helping it grow.
Staying in constant touch is another factor in its favour.
Every week, mostly on a Sunday, the group meets at a member’s house over light eats. That, of course, includes Jhal Muri.
For details about DCPCA and the Durga Puja celebrations on OMR, call 9884033386/ 9962094033
Courtesy : The Hindu. URL: http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/bong-bonding-stretches-to-omr/article6449286.ece