Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 18, Tuesday Septembert 30, 2003






Shop special

Puja Special....

Bohemian Soul

Durga Puja is knocking at the door. The people, the fun, and the colours are again back again. Puja means colourful sarees in red and white. Nowadays there are more colours that have been added to the Puja specials. The boutiques bring out nice kameezes that are specially made, keeping the Puja theme alive.

Baily Road, the official road for sarees, has a wide collection of Puja wear for ladies. Hawkers, Gawsia and all other the shops have sarees in red, white, green and other vibrant colours. The materials are also different in each store. They have pure cotton, silk, muslin, georgette etc. The price varies depending on the material and the detail.

The well known kameez shops like Kay Kraft, Doorjee, OG, Anjans, Nipun, Probortona and Banglar Mela etc have a wide range of clothing for both men and women. They have sarees with block, batik, embroidery, hand paints etc. You will find more variety here. They make Punjabis and Fotuas for men in bright colours. Kay Kraft and Banglar Mela have good men's ranges. Anjan's and OG also have good stuff for the men, to brighten them up during festivals.

The festival mood is in the air. All the markets seem to be full of activity these days. Bangles, bindis, and other jewellery are found in plenty at all the mega shopping malls of the city and around. Elephant road, known to all as a shoe-shopper's heaven, has been busy lately as the stores have nice shoes, which match the colours of the Puja clothes.

The prices are pretty reasonable. Cotton sarees in a variety of styles and colours are available within Taka 1,500. Silk and the expensive range starts at Taka 1,600 and goes up till 3,800. Eastern Plaza also offers a huge collection of clothes at affordable rates provided one knows the art of haggling. Panjabi range starts at Taka 650 goes up till Taka 1,500 mostly, though you will find exceptions in a few shops like Aarong, Mayasir or Kumudini etc. Nice kameezes are found within Taka 2,500 comfortably. The prices that have been mentioned here are the average prices, which the market offers. Now that you have all the odds and ends about colourful shopping venues, hope you have a colourful Puja with beautiful clothes and nice accessories to carry it off.

Shop talk

Shopping for this Durga puja is almost done. The materials that got the top priority in your shopping list have already found a way to your home. To help you out in your last moment shopping here is some list of items, their prices, and available place.

Music for the moment…religious songs
During the five days of stay by Devi Durga a touch of shyama giti, podaboli, kirton, and bhojon might actually tune your spirit to the right festival frequency. Recorded mostly in India these religious songs are available in CDs. Songs are mostly on Durga, Radha-Krishna, biography of Lokonath and they are performed by famous Indian singers such as Anup Jolota, Kumar Sanu, Chobi Bondhopadhay, and Porixit Bala. Available at Shurer Mela, 95, Aziz Super Market, Shahbag. These CDs will cost Tk50-60. Some of these CDs are available at the music stores of New Market.

Puja perusals
Learning about the history of Durga puja or other worshipped gods and goddesses, traditions and rituals of puja could be a bright idea during this time of the year. Books written by various writers on this subject are available at Ekushey, Aziz Super Market, Shahbag. Aziz market, popularly known as boi para to the book lovers of Dhaka is full of such books. Ramayan by Aumolesh Bhattacharjya will cost Tk128. Puja Parboner Uthshokotha by Pollob Shen Gupta will cost Tk208. There is another three part book that deserve serious reading is Hinduder Dev Devi by Hongshonarayan Bhattacharjya. Each part of this book cost Tk432.

Coconut craze
What is the sweet treat that prevails in the puja menu? Why narkel naaroo of course. This naaroo lasts for at least a month after the puja. To make a whole lot of these sweet delicacies you will need a lot of coconut. Coconut is available at every kutcha bazaar (kitchen market) at the price of Tk10-15.

Treat your senses to incense…
The usual scent that comes from the household of a devoted Hindu during Durga puja is that of the agarbati. The presence of Agarbati is necessary in every puja. Available in different flavours, one box of these incense sticks will cost Tk5-10. These are available at almost any grocery store or supermarket.

Agarbati stand
What good is an agarbati (incense) without a leg to stand on? The picture is only completed by an agarbati stand. Made of brass, these holders are available at Jahanara cottage industries at previously mentioned Aziz Super Market. The price will be Tk125. If you need to buy necessary items such as agarbati stand to perform puja then you might like to visit Shakhari bazar of Old Dhaka. The price will be less there. If you're willing to splurge on something fancy, try taking a gander at the collections at Aarong and Folk Bangladesh.

Shindur boxes
Shindur is an essential element during the Durga puja. Marble stone boxes with exclusive mina inlays will cost about Tk120. These boxes are also available with marvellous carvings on them at the same price. Oxidised metal boxes will cost between Tk60-70. Available at Ideas, Aziz Market. Brass shindur boxes are available at Shakhari bazar. They will cost around Tk30. You can also find them at the antique shops in the Gulshan-2 DCC market.

Cool kameezes
What is the best place to buy cheap three-piece kameez sets? Chandni Chawk is the name that comes to mind. Taat, kotki, chundri, cotton print, cotton check, cotton stripe with embroidery and the list goes on. All of them are available there at a very minimal price. If you want an attractive, yet affordable dress material for this puja then a visit to Chandni Chawk is a must. Taat three piece with paar will cost Tk.250. Kotki in various colours will cost Tk.500 or less. Chundri is still there at the price of Tk200. Cotton with various prints on them will cost Tk250 to 350. Other two materials on cotton cost almost the same. Now the price always depends on your ability to haggle. Chandni Chawk is full of aggressive salesmen. If you show any sign of weakness, they will mercilessly fleece you.
That's about all we have this week. Have a great shopping spree this puja.

By Shahnaz Parveen





Sharodiya greetings
Once again the goddess is here. Devoted Hindus all around Bangladesh will worship Durga and her four children Laxmi, Shorshyoti, Kartik, and Ganesh. A jovial atmosphere is already in the air. The sound of Kirton, dhuk and dhol will amplify the cheerful mood once more. On the occasion of this biggest festival of the Bengali Hindu community, we wish a heartfelt Sharodiya greetings.

Did you know…
that the five types of flowers needed to perform Durga puja has to be ones without thorns. Other than flowers fifteen items are necessary to perform the puja. These include, grass, tulsi leaves, and wood apple leaves. Treats offered to the goddess would be luchi, payesh (rice pudding), fruits and some other items.

Pujo in weekends
Speaking with one Bengali immigrant living in Boston, we have learned that in USA, New York is the place where most of the mondops are built. The difference there is that they perform puja only on weekends and mostly celebrate doshomi due to their busy schedules. However, in UK the festivity is more intense because of the presence of many Bengali Hindus there.

Scarcity of funds
All around Bangladesh different puja committees receive monetary assistance from the government and the Hindu Kollyan Shamity every year. While visiting some mondirs to write reports for our puja issue one committee leader told the LS team that, "the amount of this fund is very diminutive". They claim "we go through difficult experiences to arrange puja with this little amount of money". If this scarcity of funds could be resolved then the festival might be more glamorous.

Conserving ancient temples
Some ancient temples that have archaeological value are in very poor shape. These temples give us an idea of our past. Temples with archaeological value need immediate conservation, without distorting the originality. If we do not, a very important part of our heritage will be lost. Temples in old Dhaka are extremely neglected. In some of these temples, all that is left are eroded buildings, which are still used to perform different puja. These run down buildings pose a great risk to devotees. They require immediate reconstruction.

Healthy communal atmosphere
Being tolerant to the people coming from all religious backgrounds is the first condition for a healthy communal atmosphere. During this Durga puja we have to make sure that the environment remains so. Police protection should be increased so that no vandalization or harassment takes place.

By Shahnaz Parveen




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