The Geniuses who were experts at handling locally assembled music systems or “decks” as we called them ensured that entire colony listened while the Pundit chanted by strategically placing the metallic loudspeakers on electric poles, roofs, or even ad lib bamboo poles. No one in the locality complained, the curse of Saraswati could have rendered their children uneducated and unpolished for life. The same loudspeakers proudly broadcasted the latest chart-busters for three continuous days. Alien words like “Bass” and “Treble” were still to make ways into our lives. “Loudness” was very much in. And yes we were loud. That was the time when music from movies “Aashiqi”, “Sadak”, “Imtehaan”, “Sainik” etc. made their way into our lives. When there were multiple pandals around, there used to be an impromptu music contest that continued till wee hours of the night. Everyone wanted his Pundit to be heard and everyone wanted his music to rule. And we innocently remixed songs without any hi-fi mixing instruments.
And that was the time when we started noticing love around us, for the first time. Girls flocked at the Pandals dressed in bright Salwar-Kurtis usually ranging from pale saffron to bright orange which is the official dress code for Saraswati Pooja. And their lovers went out of their way to give them a grand feel.
A usual love scene at Pandal:
The love of his life appears at the Pandal, the music switches to a soft romantic Ballad, a “chori chori jab nazrein mili” or a “Nazar ke saamne, Jigar ke Paas”. The expression on the girl’s face changes from happy to shy to confused to a state where fathoming expressions becomes impossible. Her friends elbow her frenziedly and guffaw incessantly. Now the hero appears with Prasad Packets neatly arranged on a metallic tray. The usually ordinary Prasad now garnished with generous helping of seasonal fruits and sweets.
There were some lucky lovers who even managed to spend some “private prasad munching moments” with their girls as her friends would leave as soon as the guy appeared. Everything was planned without even planning. The demonstration of love continued till every single (committed) guy of the committee got his fair chance. Saraswati, the white adorned goddess of wisdom with a constant smile on her face silently played the love goddess. The show continued till three days and after the pooja new couples surfaced.
Now when I switch on my workstation on a Saraswati Pooja day or any festival that made me go wild in old days, a smile robotically comes on my lips. The songs start playing somewhere inside my mind and flashes of guys dancing and girls shyly accepting their Prasad packets and wailing kids and chanting pundits and blaring loudspeakers appear on my mental canvas. While I mechanically pretend to be lost in work, my mind dances in the streets where a white idol of the goddess of wisdom smiles at my moves.
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