The idol of Goddess Durga standing tall, mesmerizingly beautiful, epitomizing the divine; the sweet scent of flowers, pure and heavenly; smoky atmosphere of burning incense; the familiar beats of dhaak; gleeful children and full-blown adults alike, dancing with burning coconut coirs in a clay pot; crowd dressed in the most glittering finery; mouth-watering dishes, wonderfully decorated lights, and soulful rabindra sangeet.
YES. It is that time of the year again, when the brain gets into a fierce fight with the heart. While on the one hand, work and prospects for a ‘better, brighter future’ keep clouding the mind, on the other, nostalgia attempts to tear the heart apart. Silent sighs and sweet memories are all that one is left with.
The striated autumn sky; the waft of the frequent, gentle breezes; the slight chill in the air; the ubiquitous sight of Kaash and the fragrance of Shiuli flowers… and then the arrival of the Goddess! The memories of staring out of the window for hours at a time, merely gazing at the formation of the white cirrus clouds. The biting, painful nostalgia speaks from deep within, urging the mind to give up its rationalities and dive into the pleasures of the heart.
Settling down only to quench your thirst with a bottle of Thums Up, and not really protesting when your friends force-feed the piping hot beguni and aaloor chop. Napping in between celebrations to rejuvenate for the evening aarati and dhunuchi naach. Doing your grooviest Mithun steps to the beat of the dhakis.
Sitting all evening in mandaps; ogling at the people paying their obeisance to the Goddess, and furtively glancing towards the girl in the royal blue saree; the incessant fights with kakus and mamas over what should be the menu and which new restaurant to try. The many days and nights spent in anticipation, in mad planning, in just being able to decide which clothes to wear on what day, keeping the best ones aside for Ashtami and Nabami.
Pandal-hopping like there is no tomorrow, and not even complaining about the shoe-bites. Motionlessly staring at your ‘to-be-better halves’ (or, ‘may-be-better-halves’) while Cupid fiddles with your senses, and immediately trying and looking them up on Facebook with the smartphone, if one hears a name like Chaitali or Barnali called out loud. And if you are one of the more adventurous ones, even asking her out for an egg-roll, right outside the pandal canopy!
The number of relatives, which always sent a shudder down our spines whenever there was a family get-together, suddenly appears all bright and beautiful. As children, we never had to worry about the other face of the coin – parents were there to take care of that!
Durga Puja is a reminder that happiness finds its way home. Every year. That every woman looks stunning on Dashami after a vermillion bath. That if you touch the feet of elders on Bijoya, you get a plateful of mishti, naarkel nadu, tok-jhaal chanachur and ghugni.
As years pass by, everything else tends to lose its glamorous sheen. But, something that has shone on like a pole star in this dark firmament of broken hopes and disillusioned realities, are these five days. These five days when everything else takes a backseat. All that we care about is how exactly to spend the one festival that we so eagerly wait for all year long. The glitz and charm of Durga Puja still holds strong… a thousand miles away from home, from Bengal.
Neel aakaashe megher vela
Padmya phuler paapri mela
Dhaker taale kaasher khela
Anonde katuk Sharod bela