Autumn is always a happy time – perfect weather, that crisp air, leaves changing color, pretty clouds in a clear sky and for us Bongs it is even more special because it features the mother of all festivals, and we have a ton of festivals. Durga Puja is what ties all the bongs all around the world, no matter where you are coming from, we all have that special attachment to this one – childhood adventures, teenage love, first night outs and reminiscing all that when you are an adult.
Like in all pagan festivals, there’s always a lore – and the lore to this one is quite a kick ass one. The gods grant a wish to a dark human turning him into a killing machine who can’t be destroyed by any man, so he goes on about his killing spree, and the gods have a moment cursing their boo-boo. Then they come up with this idea that a woman must slay the demon, so Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife volunteers and all the gods give her their weapon, and she becomes this ten-handed deity and has a lion as a pet and then she slays the demon and we earthlings celebrate her victory with our feast, lasting 5 days.
As a kid, the festival obviously attracted me a lot. It had everything I’d wait around for an entire year – every place decorated with lights, huge pandals housing huge idols, loud music, the dhaak and the kasar, the new clothes… tons of new clothes, oh! And the food! The street food and the meals my mum would make especially on Nabami – that’s the last day of fun before the idols are submerged in water and bid goodbye, which is the bhaasan on Dashmi. The whole thing was some affair. We would plan out how to go to the maximum numbers of pandals, what to eat, and there would be those plastic guns with gun powder ribbons and balloons that we would just carry with us like the bosses we were. Nabami was always the most special day for me, I would keep my best dress for the night, have chicken because it’s not Ashtami and no one can make me eat stupid vegetarian dishes, and Dad always planned an all-nighter for Nabami and we would go about the town at 12 o’clock in the night and invariably I would always fall asleep in an hour or two. My brother cursed me for that.
Childhood always does make an affair grander. All that is such a far cry from the way I spent it this year or the year before – in my room, in my pyjamas. Although this year I was mourning Robb Starks death (just finished GOT and joined the wagon, y’all) so don’t tell me it wasn’t for a reason. I don’t know when exactly but the charm wore off and I started to not enjoy things. My aunts all got married – I spent my Pujas with them so that was a loss, my brother got his own set of friends to spend his time with, my cousins too got on with their own lives, my friends for some or the other reason would not, could not spend their time with me.. So I guess I turned a loner. Also not an atheist, but I don’t believe in idol worshipping, so that could be a reason I became a party pooper in pyjamas.
I guess it will take me time away from here, to value the time here. So not until I am forced to spend time away from home for the Pujas will I have the craving again. The gods should bless us all this year round to enjoy what we have, peace will finally come.
Photograph courtesy : Sohini Kumar