The wait is over! … All the speculations, assessments and consolidated efforts of local Puja Committees have finally come to an end for this year with another happy and joyous Durga Puja, one of India’s biggest and most coveted festivals! I was eagerly waiting for the Pujas; bought new clothes, planned a lot with my sisters. And now it’s over … those four days have passed so quickly just like a beautiful dream destined to dissolve in a few moments.
Durga Puja, the celebration of goddess Durga’s home coming, is grand. I don’t know how to describe the grandeur of it in mere words … Puja is all about shopping, wearing new clothes, meeting old friends, eating good food, and enjoying together.
The true essence of Dura Puja is found in West Bengal, India, where the festival is held at large. It is celebrated with utmost zeal and enthusiasm in this part of the world. But the festival of Durga Puja is not the same anymore that we used to see a few decades earlier. The mood might remain the same but what I notice the most is the changing trends of Puja celebration.
Theme based Puja is the latest trend, especially in Kolkata. The entire set up, decoration and the idol of the goddess is built following a specific theme, say folk art. A whole new wave of commercialization is evident with so many awards offered by different organizations for the best Pujas around. Cultural clubs organizing big budget Pujas aim to outshine each other with all the glitz and glamour of decoration.
I appreciate this change. It is because of theme orientation that we could see the exquisite art works of tribal temple located in remote corner of Meghalaya or the Chou art of Purulia, West Bengal right here in the heart of Kolkata. But what I miss is the simplicity and purity of the Puja.
To me, Durga Puja and autumn reflects each other. Crystal blue sky, thin white clouds and waving Kash on the field herald the beginning of the festive season in Bengal. Mother Nature is in full bloom with lush greeneries all around.
Kolkata was a lot greener in my childhood. There were big trees and lawns all around our neighborhood. The change could easily be observed in green foliages, blooming seasonal flowers and occasional drizzles from clear firmament. Greeneries are missing today; pieces of white clouds in the blue sky alone tell us that Puja is on the threshold!
The combination of autumn and Durga Puja makes me feel nostalgic. I remember my childhood days – rising early in the morning only to pick Seuli from the garden in front of our old house. The garden bed turned white with flowers covering the grasses underneath the tree. Every morning my father and I entered the garden and pick flowers until our baskets got completely full with Seulis. This was one of the routine tasks in the mornings during the fall.
Those were some of the best moments I had shared with my father. My father is no more and those golden days will never come back except autumn returning every year with a new beginning for the Pujas and lots of joy and happiness. It reminds me how much I miss my childhood days. And I miss you a lot … Baba!