Sohini Bagchi

Come, Fall In Love!

Ever wondered what is Love, the four-letter word that has often – like a magic wand –  created allurement, enchantment and even upheaval in the history of humankind? Well, for those who have felt it at some point of time (and I’m sure most of us have) know that love is probably the closest we could come to magic! It’s never-ending, it’s eternal, and even if it hurts, we would not mind going an extra mile to make it happen…

Love is an enchantment!
Love is an enchantment!

Love is an enchantment!  The soft rose petals, the clear blue sky, beautiful melodies, never-ending dreams, the smile of a baby, crystal clear waterfalls – Everything wonderful, everything magical… that’s love!

Love is the eagerness we have hidden inside us – the reservation made for that Special person. Love is that one word that liberates us from all sorrows and pain of life. It’s about promises, vows and beliefs. When life gets hard, when things change, its true love that keeps us going…

Love is exhilarating, limitless and divine. So, believe in love, fall in love, get out of it, learn, celebrate it and make it worth! Never let go of love. The whole world is made up of it. Just live with it unconditionally!

Sohini Bagchi

It’s All About ‘Love’ On Valentine’s Day!

In my college days I used to dread Valentine’s Day! There was so much hype and drama that I preferred staying in my room – curled up with a book or watching a good film. Later, when I started dating, had a boyfriend, I accidentally gave in to the hype and drama associated with the V-Day, I confess. However, even then, roses and candlelight dinners or a night out never really got me excited for February 14th.

Share it, express it and let it continually grow
Share it, express it and let it continually grow

The other day, when I was having a conversation with a friend, Sabrina, she explained to me something very interesting. Quoting a para from the Bible, she said, Biblical love is not about getting, it’s about giving, and giving without the need of getting in return. That’s the true essence of Valentine’s Day. “But how many of us are aware of this?” she questioned.

True to her sayings, there is little doubt that like every other festivity in the world, Valentine’s Day has become commercialized, thanks to the hype created by the media. Today, to the world at large, Valentine’s Day is only about romantic love. This high focus on love and romance for couples can leave many people feeling left out. Not to mention the pressure of coming up with romantic ideas and gifts, makes it an even more expensive display of affection.

My teacher in high school once said, V-day can be a good time to reconnect and express your care and concern. Or perhaps you’ve had a falling out with someone, let this day be a reminder to let go of past mistakes and resentments. For many, Valentine’s Day symbolizes forgiveness and healing.

I’m much excited by the fact that this Valentine’s Day, we, as family, planned a visit to Mother Teresa’s Home and pray for those who are in need. It’s important to find pleasure in simple things in life, as a cousin of mine tries to give her family dinner a little wow factor every Valentine’s Day. And not to forget, a neighbour I know well, instead of giving flowers, planned to plant a tree as part of volunteering in a community gardening project.

And what Beena, a dear friend of mine wrote on Facebook was the best of the lot. Her simple yet thought-provoking message was that she thanks the “Creator who taught her what it is to love, for the love of her family and all her friends ‘coz each of U is a blessing in my life… Though I feel this everyday, Valentine’s Day is just an occasion to say so to all you lovely ones!”

It’s important to love and Valentine’s Day teaches us that part of life without which existence may be impossible. A message to all is: No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the most important thing is to love. As the Beatles so aptly sang, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Share it, express it and let it continually grow!

Sohini Bagchi

Keeping the Spirit of Poila Baishakh Alive

Even though our lives are governed by the Gregorian calendar, Bengalis are often fixated to their own panjika to follow almost every auspicious date and this is one observation I’ve made since childhood. So when it comes to a special occasion like the Bengali New Year, it’s obvious for them to stick to their own calendar. Poila Baishakh or Naboborsho, as its popularly called, falls on the first day of Baishakh very much like the Tamil New Year ((Puthandu Vazthukal), Baisakhi in the Punjab, Vishu in  Kerala, Rongali Bihu in Assam and Maha Vishuva Sankranti in Orissa, i.e, April 14 or 15 every year.

New Year to All
New Year to All

To my friends celebrating the joy of New Year in different parts of India, let me give you a sincere sketch of the Bengali New Year, and “how things have changed” (like most Bengalis repent) and yet it remains the most remarkable day for the people in Kolkata! (to everyone living in the vibrant city and not just the Bengalis )

Ask your grandparents about Poila Baishakh, and be prepared for the standard reply: “Poila Baishakh is no longer what it used to be even a decade or two ago.”  Probe a little further and they’ll also tell you that Kolkata is gradually losing its old world charm, thanks to the winds of globalization. (At least we thank God for that)

This whole fuss about “losing the charm” may be true to an extent… because even a decade or two ago, this festival was about family members getting together. The elderly women of the house were busy preparing a traditional family lunch. Evenings were marked by a cultural programme at home. Some used to go to their local clubs for music and dance performance or headed to see a theatre or play (my dad still does by the way!).

You may ask now whether Poila Baishakh celebration is really dying a mournful death for the scions today? The answer is “Not really”. And this is not my thoughts alone. This is what I gathered from people of the city. The newer generation still loves to celebrate Poila Baishakh. In fact, they keep adding their unique ‘cool’ culture to the traditional festival making it quite ‘hip’ with the passage of time.

The new breed of Bengalis (and I don’t exclude myself from the sort) enjoy celebrating it just like any other special day such as Mothers Day, Friendship Day, Christmas Day, Valentines Day and of course the English New Year. For many in the city, the celebration is a combination of traditionalism with modernity.

Some prefer to dress up in a traditional sari or kurta-payjamas and believe that it’s time to go back to your roots. It actually feels good to spend time with friends and families on this special day and I agree to this. And most love to gorge on the sumptuous food fares at the city restaurants. Some others love the traditional Bengali platter like luchi and aloo dum for breakfast, and, polao, chanar dalna, bhetki paturi and kosha mangsho along with chutni and mishti doi for lunch.

If you ask me what I do in particular, well… nothing great, but it’s a feel good day. I do spend time with family and friends, meditate, cook and try to make it a bit different from the mundane in my own small way.

The retail outlets make the most out of this festival actually…. “Sale” Sale” everywhere and we all enjoy shopping for clothes, utensils, jewelry and home furnishing items. What needs to be mentioned is traders and shopkeepers still celebrate Poila Baishakh with so much of zest and this has not changed at all.  They not only observe the halkhata ceremony, but also decorate their shops with flowers and garlands. May be the khatas have been replaced by computers for many. The trend of offering sweets to customers also continues.

I can see the Poila Baishakh mood prevailing everywhere in kolkata. May not be the same as what it used to be decades back, but we thrive on change, don’t we? And whether you call it ‘commercialism’ or “the winds of change’ or ‘getting back to your roots’, the day remains special to every Kolkatan and it will never completely fade away – much like the pink panjika that remains a part and parcel of every Bengali household.

With this I sign off… and wish you all A Very Happy & Prosperous New Year!