Monday, April 9, 2012

Durga Puja

The essence of Durga Puja

We Indians are known for our festivals and their celebrations. I live for these festivals days.

Since the time I was young I used to count days for the festivals to start. When they actually did I would be totally engrossed in the festivities and forget about the other devils like study, schools and teachers.

My favorite among them was Durga puja, being a Bengali that becomes obvious. I waited so much for the pujas to come that other things became insignificant for me. I would save pocket money to spend during the pujas. 

I can still go in flashback mode and relive all my puja moments. During my childhood days the day before the pujas started was the best day of the year for me. I would be full of hope, happiness and excitement.
Every year Durga puja used to take place in the colony club house situated next to our home. So the day before the puja begins I would be sitting next to my window continuously staring at the puja pandal.. For those who are not aware of the Durga puja pandals let me give you a brief.

During the pujas, in all the places where it is celebrated, huge makeshift pandals are constructed basically with bamboo and with diverse colorful clothing ,lights and whatever articles comes to your imagination like rice, clay pots, pencils, wood, glass and anything to everything. In Kolkata the pandals compete with each other on the basis of creativity uniqueness and art display.  Some pandals exhibit art articles, some pandals have themes of say Titanic, kargil war, vaishno devi temple or anything based on current affairs. They have huge exquisite chandeliers adorning the roof of the pandal. The goddess is always the most beautiful part of the pandal ravishingly decorated , wearing shining loud colored new sari with black flowing wavy curly hair , gold colored ornaments enhancing her beauty and big angelic eyes as if talking to you. The goddess depicted glory, elegance and power. I even loved the lion idol that she rides on. The entire road that leads to pandals are decorated using different graphical lights. There is so much sparkle on earth that stars must be shining down out of shyness. 

For me they are huge pieces of art for display where people gathered dressed in new clothes and smiling faces.

Another aspect of Durga puja are the fairs organized in puja grounds. Different forms of junk food you would die for are available. Many rides like big wheel merry go round used to attract most of the kids. Constant sound of dhakis (who beat huge drums in honor of the goddess) and random songs playing on loudspeakers added to the ambience.

Well coming back to my waiting near the window. The puja that happened to take place every year near my home was not as huge as others in the city, but being close to my place I loved it. Every year till midnight the decorations went on for next day. I used to be awake and kept checking out of the window. I remember sleeping with wide smile on my face.
The next morning festivities begin and the loudspeakers are on and you get into a puja feel. I would get ready and run to the puja venue with my friends. First we used to visit the goddess and then to my actual point of interest, the fair. There used to be as huge line of small shacks selling goodies and toys for children. I would be roaming about with my tiny bag and making rounds of the shacks. But end up buying nothing at all. I just enjoyed looking at the goodies and being happy. Then we would go ahead and spend on ice creams, candies and other varied kind of junk food that parents usually don’t approve of.

In the evenings I would accompany my parents and visit the other big pandals of the city. Each year I would follow this routine and the experience was splendid.

Now that I am not a child anymore and my golden days have passed, sometimes I even have to come to office in puja days the small child in my memories gets hurt and snaps at me . It does not let me kill the puja spirit within me. Even though i have work I visit the puja venue in evenings all dressed up for the occasion.

So no matter how busy I am, I make it a point to visit my parents or ask them to come to my place and celebrate the festival together.. Till now I don’t buy anything from the fairs nor am I that interested in the rides, what I really like is the aura of the goddess and the small stalls of the puja selling Bengali food. I grab all the not so fat free, not so hygienic food and indulge in guilt free happiness.

When I go back to sleep I find my inner child giving me an approval smile.

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