The two festivals that I remember vividly from my stay in Calcutta are Durga Puja and Ramnavami. However surprisingly, have more lucid memories of Ramnavami, though it was celebrated on a much smaller scale than Dussehra. Also got my first economics lesson around then.
This festival which usually falls in April is celebrated very differently in Calcutta by Marwadis and North Indians (as far as I have experienced). On this day, many families prepared an elaborate feast and invited only girls for lunch. As a result, I was also always invited to several homes in the neighborhood on that day. This ritual would always start off gaily and end up as quite a torture, even for a foodie.
Am not sure why different girls were not invited to different homes, or why we were not divided into batches, or served less food. It was imperative for every girl to attend every house, and have several exactly similar lunches within a span of few hours!! 🙁 🙁
Still remember the menu on these days (how can one forget, when one eats it so many times?): aloo, puris, bhindi, gatte ka sabzi, dal, rice, kachoris, suji halwa and few other sweets. I liked all these items, but the “Law of Diminishing Returns” would soon kick in after visiting about two homes. But, the lady of each house would be merciless and insist “Please beta, thoda aur khalo. Ek aur puri khalo. Jitna unke ghar mein khaya, yahan bhi utna hi khana hoga”. After finishing the rounds to all the homes, I’d end up totally stuffed, uncomfortable and exhausted. That would be the only day that the girls would be missing in the play sessions in the evening, because we could hardly move even after few hours.
But surprisingly, I’d be very glad to attend a similar feast nowadays, if anyone invited me 🙂 🙂