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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My days with Durga




It has been about six years since I have been at Kolkata during Durga Puja.The last I was here, however was a different Kolkata, with no multiplexes, no hi-tech shopping malls, no Newtown .To say in short, a not so happening city. Although this city has never stopped giving me surprises, not when I first came here in 1992 and neither now. Any city is how its people are.Kolakata as city is too crowded; sometimes the crowd actually frightens people. But the crowd also implies how the city has thrived, even after accepting people from all its surrounding states and countries. And most of this passion comes out during Durga Puja. To an outsider and sometimes to people like me, who have stayed for many years away from the city, this passion is sometimes invisible. We are more concerned about the inevitable traffic jam during Puja, the sound pollution, the infinite outpour of almost the entire population on road, frustrating no parking zones, almost hearing impaired people who would not listen to the car horn and many more. Yes all these are true for Kolkata and would be true for any city that has limited resources and uncontrolled need for resources.

Sometimes all these frustrate me. I think, how does it matter? Whether I go for shopping and buy some 10-20 dresses before Durga Puja or not!!Or whether I even wear them on the days of Puja. How does it matter whether I go for Pandal hopping, taking my night’s sleep for a toss? Such thoughts always come to mind. And now that we can claim ourselves to be the “intellectual”, wastage of time and money is a strict “no no”. But then, what about those unknown faces that I would be able to see if I go for Pandal hopping? What about those men, women, children, elderly whom I could have had glanced upon, who come from remote villages irrespective of their caste, religion just to have a look on Devi Durga? There are people who wait all the year for these few days to show case their cultural talents and craftsmanship. There are people who would work overtime just to buy their little ones a new dress at the last moment..so that Puja happiness for them doesn’t go for a miss. The rickshawalas,the panipuriwalas,jhalmuri,biryani,5star delicacies, well dressed babus with their obese bibis,the college going people with hands together,Hilsa,Sindoor,Alta ..What other occasion can bring them all together!!

In every other deity worship, the devotees take a task to visit the temple. But it is during Durga Puja that Devi Durga with her four children,Lakshmi,Saraswati,Ganesh and kartik comes to visit her parents place from Kailasha.Yes that’s how the story goes in Bengal,howmuch ever disconnected it may be with Puranas, but certainly this is one festival where the Goddess of victory,love,success,power herself visits her devotees. And she is so humane. While we visit the various pandals, we realize how the goddess has emerged in every corner of each locality, in different styles and forms. Yes, the mushrooming number of Durga Pujas in Kolkata are definitely a threat to the city’s congestion and traffic problems, but a little compromise for these few days just makes us feel the essence.
And just like every good story has to end, every human feeling has to be both good and bad, and as time must pass on, Durga too has to leave and go back to her husband. And thus Durga Puja brings with itself the cycle of love and deprivation, happiness and sadness. But as always hope thrives to say Good bye to “Maa Dugga” and that she will come back again next year.....same time...same way... just like a TV commercial that last for a year time...

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