Puja Special: Tollywood celebs offer a peek into their festive plans
Pujas are always special for any Bengali living in any part of the world. It means homecoming, the first crush, eating out, get-togethers and countless things. No matter where one is, Pujas are sorely missed by the homesick Bengali.
But this year, the pandemic has subdued the tone of celebrations and dampened spirits to a great extent. With everyone apprehensive about stepping out, Pujas this year will surely not be the same. We spoke to a few Tollywood celebs to find out how different their Puja will be this year.
Usually, there are work-related events, film promotions and judging Pujas and it's not before Ashtami that I get time for myself, Usually I spend that time with my sister, parents and close friends. Ashtami morning means anjali at a friend’s Puja with my parents. This year, my sister, who has shifted to Pune will not be there and I will perhaps not be venturing out too much. Rather it will be a quiet one with my parents at home.
For almost 20 years now, I am having one or more Puja releases every year. I miss all the hustle-bustle and activities related to the promotion of the films in these pre-Puja days and Pujas always meant tracking the box office results of my films and taking rest at home. I seriously miss all that this year. On a normal year, I mostly stay at home, eat bhog, watch movies and have a good time with close friends. But this year is very different and my only prayer to the goddess Durga will be to heal the world fast and make it corona-free.
This is a different year and I am stuck in Singapore with my family and unfortunately, no Pujas are taking place here this year. So, I will badly miss all the rituals, fun and celebrations and will be terribly missing offering anjali to the goddess. But I will try to cheer myself up and be in that Puja vibe by decking up in choicest saris and playing Puja music at home. My prayers are with all the people who are fighting hard to keep coronavirus away and for those who are suffering from the virus.
My best puja memories still remain the seven years between 1992 and 1997 that I stayed at the housing complex in Swiss Park. There is a whole gamut of memories including functions, antaksharis, night-long pandal hoppings, quizzes, heartbreaks and crushes. Nowadays, it's usually eating out, partying with friends and relaxing at home. And this year too it will be more about relaxing at home given the COVID situation though it’s my first Puja after marriage. Maybe Mithila and I would celebrate along with our daughter in a low profile manner and would be going to house parties thrown by friends with all precautionary norms in place.
My best Puja memories are from childhood when my sister and I were usually dressed up in identical clothes. I usually work until Saptami and from Ashtami onward, I enjoy with my family and friends. This year I think we need to cut short the pandal-hopping plans and also the get-together at my friend and actor Mimi Chakraborty’s place is not happening. I will be busy promoting my Puja release SOS Kolkata. However, I do not plan on missing the Ashtami anjali and Dashami Sindoor Khela. This year’s puja has a lot of uncertainty around it. I pray to Maa that the situation improves and we get a COVID-free world soon.
The best Puja memories are still the childhood ones when we used to eagerly wait to wear our brand new clothes and go out for pandal hopping with parents. This year since I am in Kolkata and the situation is so out-of-control due to the pandemic, I would be spending the Pujas again with my parents after a very long time and maybe my sister Riya would come down and we will have a great time celebrating at home together.
I am a complete hodophile and usually go out of town from Saptami onwards. This year too it won’t be an exception and maybe instead of flight, I will undertake a road trip. I am planning to go to Goa this time after all the promotional work is over for my Puja release SOS Kolkata. The best part about road trips is that you get exposed to different cultures and amicable people and get to taste authentic local cuisines at the tiny dhabas and eateries dotting the highways.
Puja days are nothing different from any other day for me. I am either in Delhi or shooting, so, I am almost always not in Kolkata during that time. The year when everything changed almost suddenly for me was 1997 when I won the most popular city pageant and a huge news article came out about the same around the Pujas. That year everything suddenly changed for me. This year, is a difficult year for all of us and we have seen the worst and now as we are steadily trying to get back to normalcy, there will be no elaborate rituals held at my place that I otherwise do. This time, we will pray to God from the safety of our confines.
Usually, I spend the first two days in Kolkata and the rest of the days at my hometown in Midnapore with family and friends. I look forward to meeting all my cousins with whom I hardly get to spend time and we have night-long chat sessions, and go for dinners. But this year, alas, it will be much different and muted thanks to the pandemic and I would be avoiding large gatherings. Hopefully next year things will be normal once again.
The best Puja memory still remains the last day at school before Puja holidays when the pre-Puja function took place. Nowadays, there are work-related events and Puja judging that I attend for the first two days and Ashtami onwards I get free. I usually spend those days lazing around at home and going to house parties. I also take out my parents for lunch or dinner. But this year I am apprehensive about taking them out. Also, I am a bit in two minds about participating in Puja-related events.
I suffer from festive blues during Pujas. I go for judging or Puja events if I have any and then I prefer a birds-eye view of the crowds making merry from my window throughout the day. This time, all the more, I am simply not in the groove at all to do anything due to the pandemic.