We arrived at People House around 8 in the morning. The Puja will take place today, as this is the day decided by the Brahmin.
While doing their work, Somen’s mother, her sister, Modhumala, Soma, the wife of Somen’s brother, Pinku, also help me prepare. Mother gives me a beautiful yellow saree, together with a blouse and petticoat. Then Soma arranges my saree and decorates me with the proper jewels and lipstick. I try helping, but everybody seems to know how to do things better than me. Finally, I am assigned to cut some fruits for the Prasad, but there is no knife and the instrument they put in front of me seems dangerous. It is called Boti: women put their feet on it and cut everything. Not easy to use, you need to know how to turn the veggie around it. I am a courageous woman so I test it carefully and start cutting fruits. Some help I could provide, but not enough for what I think.
Puja for the People House Inauguration
While I am still busy understanding what is going on, a Young man in a white dhoti arrives and starts building a small shrine. I don’t want to miss anything, I don’t move from the room. Everybody brings whatever he asks fast. Soma seems to know very well what to do, she is like his first hand. Everybody moves around, children play, neighbours come, mother and father participate sometimes. Everything is allowed, everybody is involved. This is a polychrome time culture, nobody is disturbed by anything, everybody keeps happy, things are done in good order and in the end everybody feels the sacredness of the Puja.
In the evening, the neighbours and villagers come and take Prasad. Not all together, as I am used in my own country. They come one by one, or a family, or some neighbours together. Around 6-8 at a time. We offer fruits from the Puja and different sweets. They speak, look at me and seem so nice. They look at me with curiosity, but I don’t feel like I am an outsider. They just accept my presence there. I don’t know what they say, what Somen’s mother says. Still, I promise myself again that the next time I come here I have to know Bangla…
9 october 2013Angelica Marinescu
Univ. of Bucharest, Romania Univ. of Burgundy, France