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Bengolism

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Being a UPiete, W Bengal was always only a far away state on the map. Adding to the ignorance was the firm opinion of my mom that all Bengolies are quarrelsome and so good to be avoided. She had her own reason and I never questioned her like so many others of her diktats.

So to me the connotation of the word ‘Bengoli’ was very limited. Infact I had only one meaning and one reference – Bengolies celebrated something called Durga Puja every year and we were forced to see it at least once at a residential colony with the name ‘Durga Baari’! My memories of this are very vague – and all I can remember is the crowd and chaos. I am talking of my teenager days and like any other teenager I was totally disinterested in going anywhere even least crowded … so it was a complete pain and I would try and avoid it as much as possible. But parents have to do some things and I am thankful that in spite of tantrums I was exposed to many things and the yearly ritual visit to Puja Pandals was one of them!

But to be honest, it’s only in the recent years that the ‘Bengolism’ has become more real to me. Thanks to some Bengoli Friends, I have now been exposed to all Bengoli Things … from rituals … dress sense … nature … eccentricities … must for bengoli things … their shortcomings … sharp intellect etc .

If this wasn’t enough, some more bengolism was rubbed on to me once I joined what can be easily termed as a Bengoli Organisation – a company with strong Bengoli domination … CII!

To me, the most startling feature of the Bengolies, other then their big round bindi and the beer belly paunch is their ‘community bonding’. In all my interactions with Bengolies – community bonding comes across very strong – and it is most evident during Puja. Infact, Puja further strengthens this bonding. The way each and everyone participates in the puja – devotes times for practicing –  for shopping gifts for everyone –  for decorating and managing the pandals is a case study of sorts in itself – of participatory management! More so coz the story of crabs in a jar not letting anyone getting out is so often compared to the bengolies!

But none of this shows during the puja –  when all come together and work towards one aim of having the best Puja Pandal –  or when they sit together for Khichdi and Sabji or preparing for the ‘Gaan’ for the cultural evening. There is no evidence of any markings of economic status or any other differentials playing a role.

Yet another factor which plays a huge role in this bonding is their language! Unlike the North Indians who all have more or less a same root language, Bengolies have a distinct language – a unique communication tool! No matter which part of the country they may come from – their language binds them instantly – not leaving any scope for awkward silences and the connection is usually emotional and the same as that of a long lost friend found in a distant place. Language further adds to the community bonding as everyone who can’t speak Bengoli automatically gets side tracked.

Thus even in today’s social media dictated world where Facebook and Twitter are acting as the great leveler, it’s quite possible to find two bengolies connecting solely with “Ki Holo”

Bottom line – While my exposure and interest has risen considerably and Durga Puja has become a regular in my festival calendar also, I envy Bengolies …

–                     For your ability to speak /catch more languages (Oriya, Assamees to name a few)

–                     For your respecting demeanor towards women and giving more important to Goddesses

–                     For your community bonding

And above all for your strong culture … hail Bengal!