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Dressing Up for Durga Puja

Few quick tips to help in your Puja attire.

Fri, Oct 11 2013

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Among the various rituals associated with Durga Puja, dressing up is the most important, understood and often misunderstood one. After your eyes have admired ‘Ma’, they wander around to admire other ‘Mas’, ‘Dadas’, ‘Didis’ and their dresses. Ma dazzles during the puja days and we as her devotees are not far behind.

To your child, a dress loses its charm approximately ten minutes after they have been worn. They are oblivious to the challenges you have faced in importing the latest traditional dress from India. Always carry a spare 'Spiderman' or 'Peppa Pig' dress, as they will need a change when you are least expecting it, like when having food or meeting an old flame. The rule here is the more expensive the dress, the quicker it gets soiled. It is a good idea to buy traditional dresses two sizes up to account for rising air fare and inflation. Girls differ from boys as they are more attentive to detail while they are dressing up. It’s just the same afterwards.

If you are an example of the unmarried male Bengali species, treat Durga Puja as Oscars to showcase your personality. Your dress will play a vital part as the car you have bought recently is in the parking lot and is not visible. Adorn a Panjabi to signify “in touch with roots”. Choose its length proportional to your involvement in the cultural committee (and not on your cultural awareness or knowledge). Intricate designs shows sophistication. Beware of overdoing this intricacy as the line between looking sophisticated and a looking like an Art Fair is very fine. Rolled up sleeves will indicate your association with the puja food committee, which in turn will enhance your status as a dependable provider. A curled up “kolhapuri” will broadcast the fact that you are ready to forgo your freedom by Dashami.

If you are a married Bengali man, you may want to skip this paragraph now. You will dress up exactly as you have been told. Your costume is not supposed to stand out on its own rather provide a context and ambience to your partner’s daring outfit and accessories. The only element of individual choice in your attire is your camera. It’s a known fact that a married Bengali man would fight until death if an attempt is made to alter the make or model of his camera chosen for the occasion. The more expensive and elaborate your photographic gear, the less choices and control you probably have outside photography. You may also want to leave the Tripod home as your dream shot of Ma Durga’s face lit by a lamps with a 2 sec exposure hasn’t materialised in the past five years.

If you are not the photographic kind, you may be a sweaty, hard-working man in jeans and T-shirt who lurks in the background of every Puja photo. You exist to make the puja successful. You will usually be confined to assist the cook, show the way to the toilet, serve food and clean up afterwards. You should take comfort in the fact that most finely dressed Bengali gentleman you are looking at, would have been through this role once in their life.

Your planning for the right outfit for this Puja should have started on Dashami the previous year, if not, then you are already late. Your planning would have been followed by a monthly audit of sarees, which would have taken anywhere from an hour to a full day. This audit gets more frequent as Puja approaches. Data protection and confidentiality was your top priority for the past few months and you would not discuss with anyone about the sarees you are going to wear during puja.

About two months before the puja, you suddenly withdraw from the Data Protection Act when the urge to divulge overtakes every other urge. A casual call to your friend during this stressful period ultimately ends up with an open suitcase and a bed full of sarees, just as you imagined. Do not leave your man out during these preliminary matches. Consulting him will make them feel important and involved and they will usually forget the fact that this consultation is well, just a consultation.

You have invested considerable time, money and energy on the attire to go with during each puja session and any different suggestion or hint from anyone shows a lack of fashion sense. Last but not least, you reserve the right to change your decision without notice.

The consequences of such a last minute change is either a spare nappy for the baby or a wide-angle lens, neither of which are significant in the larger scheme of things.

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