Looking Forward, Looking Back: Durga Puja in my Eyes

Vedatrayee reminisces of Durga Puja and tells us what it means to her, in the special feature, exclusively in Different Truths.

I am not very good with dates. So unlike any Bengali, I have no record as to when Durga Puja is at the starting of the year. But I have some ways, I like to call them my ways, of comprehending the arrival of the favourite vacay of West Bengal.

The cool breeze that tingles the sweat ridden hair amidst a blazing afternoon sun, brings in a sudden flow of feeling good. The ever dark Dharamtala bus stand that is flooded with brightest of lights. The smell of new paint; clean pavements and transports. The sense of relief after a strenuous working day ‘a few more days to vacation’. All these tell me ‘Maa is coming’.

Ask any Bengali, hard-core or not, about Mahalaya and you will find an instant rush of energy pumped to their eyes. That is what is believed to be the beginning of a 5-day journey of emotions. But Puja starts way before that; with the ‘marketing’ and dine out with an uncountable number of shopping bags. It starts when one Puja ends and 365 days long wait begins, a wait that keeps all the reunions and homecomings alive. For me, the ‘Pujo asche’ (Puja is around the corner) phase is much more celebrated than the puja days itself. The sentimental creature that I am the puja days eventually fill me with an inexplicable sense of nothingness. Those five days are my ‘do anything and everything’, literally.

With the passing years and increasing workload, I have always expected myself to lose the energy to enjoy Puja – go out, pandal hop, party hard, meet friends, etc. Each year, I decide on staying back home and take naps or lay on my bed looking at the ceiling with an almost vacant mind. But somehow, and believe me, I don’t know how I find my way back to my childhood years; when celebrating Puja was a necessity and the only thing to be worried about was the ‘Puja holiday homework,’ (read penal torture). I manage to find my way back. And that is what matters to me.

I realise each year, every time that worship although shown to be the hue and cry it is like the actor on stage. The director behind the curtain is a celebration of togetherness. That is what people long for. That is what I long for. A reunion with my yesteryears. If ‘bosonto’ (spring) gives Kolkata ‘prem‘ (affairs), ‘shorot‘ (autumn) renders ‘bhalobasha‘ (love).

Durga Puja is, thus, Kolkata’s autumn love.

©Vedatrayee Dutta

Photos from the Internet

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