Thursday 27 September 2018

The Feelings of Durga Puja

"What is with you and your wait for the month of October? Don't tell me you have starred discussing about new skirts and saris with your Chittaranjan Park Friends. You have celebrated Durga Puja all your life. And, I believe it is the same chore. Let's go to a hill station this year please and "utilize" the holidays. Like all festivals in the world, Durga Puja is also about dressing up, meeting friends and offer prayers. Why you are so excited each year?"

I ponder over the questions asked by my Punjabi neighbour and wonder how to best explain the feelings of Asche Pujo (arrival of Durga Puja) to someone not akin to it.

How do I explain that it is something in the air that only Bengalis will feel to remind themselves that Pujo is not far.

She cannot feel the difference in the heat of the Sun, the coolness of the breeze and smell the fragrance of Shiuli Phool (night-flowering jasmine with an orange center) which blooms only this time of the year.

Ofcourse, Durga Puja comes each year and it has become a routine but she won't feel the excitement in buying 10 dresses and the flashy accessories like sandals, purse, jewellery that go with them.

I remember one of my classmates from Afghanistan accompanied me and after witnessing the preparations and celebration of Durga Puja in the year of 2009 commented, "Your festival is not only big but an expensive one!"

But how come it doesn't seem like that to us?

We look forward to the bonuses and children save their pocket money only to happily splurge in these 4-5 days.

There is an undoubted grandeur in this festival and it seems almost necessary to ignite the power of Druga Ma.

Durga Puja is like Christmas when the lighting of streets and pandals, and exchange of gifts is a must.

It is like Diwali when we are unhesitant about food and drinks. Even the gym regulars are spotted chomping on a Fish Kobiraji or a Mughlai Paratha.

It is unbelievable but it is easy to give up sleep in these days just to hop pandal to pandal and brag about how many pandals one has visited this year.

Durga Puja is like Id and Karwachauth when devout Bengalis specially the mothers forgo their Mach Bhaja and Kosha Mangsho till the 9th day of the Navratri.

Durga Puja is like Holi when we interact with the known and unknown during morning Anjali/Prayer and stand in the endless serpentine rows for Bhog-Prasad under the hot afternoon sun.

Durga Puja is also like the Valentine's Day when we dress up gorgeously, literally round the clock, to impress our sweethearts or search for one.


Unimpressed by my narration, my friend gets up and says it is time for her to get her child from the bus-stop.

I realized it was too much for her to understand and too little to have the real essence of Durga Puja.

I walk to her main door and say, "You have to be a Bengali to feel what Puja is."

I leave her apartment and enter mine and switch on a Bengali Channel to see the Pujo's countdown on the left-hand corner of the television screen and say to myself, "Ashche Pujo aar Bajbe Dhaak".


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