How do I write this diary today? Moist eyes. I could have called this article ‘Why I love my Baba?’. I could have named this article ‘ Why I value tradition?’ I could have called this article ‘ Seeping in Nostalgia.’

Today evening I watched a Bengali film. Mahalaya. It is a simple film narrating a true incident. In 1976 All India Radio decided to replace the traditional Mahisasurmardini Program composed by Shri Bani Kumar, tuned by Shri Pankaj Mallick and presented by Shri Birendra Krishna Bhadra. The program was replaced by a new program presented by the most popular singers and stars of the time. Bengal’s heart throb and star Uttam Kumar was to lead the presentation.

Bengal cherishes its tradition. Bengali Bhadraloke. Bengali Bhadramahila. They love all that is part of their culture. Yet Bengal welcomes what is new. Poetry. Music. Film. 

In 1976. When the announcement was made of a new Mahalaya that would replace the old traditional Mahalaya, the first reaction was revolt. An initial surprise. Shock. And then hearing that it would be presented by the most celebrated and loved duo of Hemanta and Uttam, Bengalis became curious. Curiosity eventually gave rise to excitement. 

Everyone everywhere talked about the new Mahalaya. In school. At home. In our Mayer Ichcha Kali Bari. 

As we were going to bed the night before, I asked my father. ‘Have you put the alarm? Tomorrow it is Mahalaya.’ My father said ‘ Yes.’

We went to bed. 

Next morning the alarm rang. Dark hours. I jumped up and sat on bed. The light in our bedroom was on. 

Then he came back to bed. And switched on the Transistor. A Japanese transistor.

New. Mahalaya. 

Ma. Baba. I . Rumjhum. 4 years. Sleeping.

This Mahalaya was so dull. We just could not connect. My Ma did not say anything. She just lay down again. My father said ‘Nonsense – Jachchetai’. 

My father , a super fan of Hemanta said ‘ Hemanta should not have done this.’ 

And somewhere in the middle I fell asleep. 

When I woke up again it was light. I asked Ma ‘How was it in the end?’ She smiled.

Baba had come to breakfast table by then. I asked him ‘Did you hear till the end?’ He said ‘No. If failed miserably. Daha fail koreche.’ 

Tht day everywhere , in school, in Mandir, in market and at home Bengalis talked of only one thing. 

’ Mahalaya by Uttam. Daha fail.’

A few mornings later. The original Mahalaya was played. I remember what my father said that day. ‘ Today it feels like Puja. Aaj Pujo Pujo mone hochche.’ 

And he was so happy. So happy that Mahalaya had returned. In our lives. In Bengal’s life.

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