Today is Bengali New year. It is the first day of the first month in Bengali calendar – Boishakh. Traditionally, we do not (or did not) ring in our new year with champagne and fireworks. Instead, we woke up to a day of sweets, good food and new clothes. We started the morning by touching the feet of our elders, seeking blessings as a brand new year begun with promise and most importantly, hope. Every new beginning needed (and still needs) to be blessed by our elders. Although I am not religious, I am a big believer in blessings. Since my childhood, I grew up touching the feet of my parents and other grown ups, seeking their blessings before an exam, first day of school, new year, birthdays because I like to believe that the good wishes and blessings create a positive energy which leads to well being. I also think the humility of asking for blessings is a lovely gesture. Instead of saying ‘happy new year’ we used the Bengali wish Shubho Noboborsho. However, I have seen greetings like Happy Poila Boishakh on social media and the purist in me cringed just a tiny bit.
We Bengalis believe morning shows the day or in other words, the first day of a new year is a precursor to how the new year is going to be. If we spent the first day by eating good food, wearing new outfits, and are generally in good mood it would bode well for the rest of the year. Start the year off in the right footing. Or just make it another excuse to indulge in culinary delights. Us, Bengalis love our food. Most of us truly live to eat and we are completely unapologetic about it. I recently went to a small gathering of friends where we literally talked about all the hidden gems of good eateries spread all over Kolkata. Food, politics and art – that is what we talk about. What else is there in life anyway?
Today is a regular work day for all of us. Sean is busy with his work, I have to do mine and the kids are in school. I woke up looking out at the bright sunshiny day and in a very typical Bengali way, I started thinking what can I cook to make the day somewhat celebratory? I had eggs in the house, onions, ginger, garlic, potatoes, tomato paste and …… posto (poppy seeds). I had to log in to work at 10. So I gave up my usual languishing with a cup of coffee in the morning. After talking to my parents to wish them Shubho Noboborsho, and asking for their blessings, I sprung into action. I made onion garlic ginger paste, chopped green chilis, sautéed, stirred, boiled and within 35 minutes I had my dim posto ready. Dim Posto is egg curry cooked with poppy seed paste.
It is a simple dish, nothing fancy. I want this to be a precursor for the days to come. I want simple, uneventful days ahead of me. I want nothing fancy, nothing exciting even. I will take boring, comforting, wholesome. I wish the same for all of you. Whether you are a Bengali or not, I wish you an uneventful year on this day, the day I celebrate the beginning of a new year. May you be healthy, may your life rock back to a steady rhythm, may it be comforting and uneventful. And if there are events, may those be happy.