The incessant rains have come to an end and the unbearable summers have long gone by. It is that perfect time of the year when the natural world is in perfect harmony, reminding us of the various festivals to come..the long deserved break from work!
As is the case with most Bengalis, Durga Puja is my most favourite time of the year. However it’s the festivities and the anticipation leading up to the days of the puja is what I enjoy more than the actual days of the puja.
I have had the priviledge of experiencing the festivities up-close..at my grand parent’s place, where the Durga puja is being carried out for the past 100 years!. As a kid, the presence of a beautiful lady with ten arms and three eyes, was intimidating yet wonderful. My first sight of her would be at the poto para..where the idols were made out of clay and hay. By the time we reached..ours would be the only idol complete with eyes and clothes..and fresh blood dripping from Ashura’s chest.
With a critical eye we would examine our idol, making sure no essential detail had been left untouched. And even though Durga and her family looked absolutely perfect, we would ask one of the craftsmen to add some brush strokes, merely for our satisfaction. After ensuring ourselves that she was ready to be taken home..we would go around looking at the other idols, who would remain unfinished during the course of the puja..
For Bengalis, for these five days life, work and other mundane activities comes to a complete standstill. Of course not all Bengalis feel this way. Some of my friends, take special care, to declare to the world that Durga Puja makes no difference to their lives. However this was never an option for me. Once Durga arrives, the drum is beaten and its tune is unique.. reminding us of this special moment…and there is a certain craziness in the air, mixed with revelry, that makes you feel, if God were to exist he or she would certainly not mind being a part of these festivities.
However the actual days of the puja is hard work for me. We have guests coming in every ten minutes and I have to lay out sweets at a very rapid rate, making sure that they don’t get over. The interesting thing about prashad is..the less you give..the more valuable it is considered. Hence most of the morning goes in carefully managing the resources and looking after guests, who would waste no time to come to the conclusion that I would make an excellent wife based on my sweets distribution skills!!
I believe that the relevance of god in our lives is steadily declining as too many things are happening around us, that compel us to believe that we are all alone in this world to counter the several evil forces. The forces within us and those outside of us. However I love the way Durga puja reminds me of those childhood days…when I loved Durga..for who she was and nothing else.