Let me tell you about Purnea.This small bustling town with a British heritage, sandwiched between the rivers Ganga and the Kosi, has a special place in my heart. With huge fish markets, plenty of fresh produce , and a gentry which only swears by ‘Darjeeling tea’; it is a small gem of Bihar. Wherever in the country I have been, it is always a bit tough explaining the exact entity called Purnea, as most people confuse it with the infamous Purulia,of the ‘arms dropping’ fame. So from the movie ‘Teesri Kasam‘of Raj Kapoor ( based on Phanishwar Nath Renu’s novel) to our Vidhayak(MLA) Pappu Bhaiyya, I name it all. I usually get a response in the affirmative by the time I reach the last name.
With a Kolkata-tilt, most of the families have illustrious backgrounds dating far back to the days of the residency. The place was a centre for Indigo planters in the times of the Raj, with its own Station Club with its Lawn Tennis Courts, its long forgotten billiards table, it’s bridge room; now standing testimony to an era gone by. My own home is on the stables of a British Official’s residential quarters. During the construction of my house, my father somehow believed that the stables would spew out hidden treasures if dug deep😁
Durga Puja celebrations of Purnea are to kill for! The most outstanding idols and the best observed rituals. Those ten days of Devi worship surpasses all that I have seen from Mumbai to Kanyakumari. The pundit is in a divine state of being, almost holding discourses with gods while chanting the mantras. The food stalls are exemplary and a new breed of youngsters following the age old custom of ogling and Masti present themselves every year, without fail. There is something about every little town that endears itself to its residents, but those traits are far below when compared to my Purnea.
If you have not seen Purnea so far, do plan a stopover in your itinerary to any place due East.