Thursday, 10 May 2012

Panchala


Today my fond memories are taking me back to my maternal grandparents’ place, where my beloved mother grew up in the midst of greenery and water all around.
After gaining senses, I first visited the place when I was just 5 years old. I still remember the day though it is little faded, I was very happy and jumping around when my mother and father were packing the baggage and beddings; I suppose a day before the journey.
The day of the journey in Allahabad station, I was amazed to see so many trains whistling and the people all around. We boarded the train in the evening and reached Howrah station of West Bengal the next day afternoon. From the station we took a bus to reach our place named Panchala. From the bus stop we took cycle rickshaw to go to our grandparents’ house.
When we reached there almost all relatives of mine along with their neighbors came out to greet us with open arms. Initially I was taken aback seeing so many people around hugging and kissing me. It was almost dawn by then.
Next day my real adventure started when my elder cousins took me around the village, plucking flowers and fruits from different plants and trees. The sights which really appealed me were the ponds encircled by coconut trees. There were many fish moving around in the ponds and so I was little scared to put my feet in the water.
After that visit we visited the place once in every 2 to 3 years in my summer or winter vacations. Here the day used to start with the breakfast of Muri(raw rice roasted in sand ) with coconut sweet or Tele Bhaja (Pakoris) . Then the real fun time used to start, I used to roam all around the village with my cousins going to different houses of the locality. To my surprise most of the houses were having their own ponds named after the family surnames. None of us had watch with us but the biological clock of our body that is tinge of hunger and physical surrounding of people taking bath in the ponds used to remind us of lunch time.
In lunch most of the days, fish fry and fish curries were served along with plateful of rice and a bowl of dal with potato fry. After lunch each day my grandmother used to serve us with cool and sweet water of tender coconut, which I used to relish the most. These coconuts were not bought, they were dropped from the trees in our backyard each morning. 
In the evening after getting dressed, we used to go either to the village market or play in the big play ground, which was also beside a big pond. Sometimes our elder cousins used to take us  little further inside the village, where I witnessed  beetle leaf plantation and the huts made with mud and plastered with cow dung, having a thatched roof dry coconut leaves.
This place was like a different world to me, after going from Allahabad where I could hardly see any coconut trees or ponds except the river Ganga. This place was like the scenery drawn by me looking at the posters or the books.  
Panchala is situated near Ulluberia in Howrah district but it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour from Howrah station by bus or taxi. This place is very famous for Kali Puja, which is celebrated every year with lots of devotion. People from different places visit this place during this time. They even perform the ritual of goat sacrifice, which I could never witness due to large crowd and my dislike to the ritual. The village is even famous for its Muggum work on saris, done by the Muslim craftsmen of the village.