The Pujas are ending, Dusserah has come. What was an almost exclusive celebration is now celebrated all over the country, indeed all over the world with gaeity, abandon and with resplendent flavour.
As you enter a pandal, the construction which houses the Mother Goddess a child whimpers with a begging bowl, a one legged man adopts a similar posture. What does this grand festival mean to them? How do we look at them, just before stepping into the echelons of worship? Do we pray for them?
In this our country, every day we hear of rape, cold blooded murder, bludgeoning to death of friend by friend, of friend by foe, people dying in calamities; natural, man made. Violence is our archetypal mission. The newspaper blares this aloud, the electronic media uses it for histrionics, we have a glut of news, news and news. We lap them greedily, we are hungry for news, not action. News is inviolate, action is not. We worship the news makers, they are our gods.
In this midst of blasphemy we go to the decorated pandals, is to pray? Where is the spirit we search for feverishly, is it in the idols? If it is so, what services do we proffer to the deities? Will they not be happy if we have a touch of sensitivity, instead of lying prostrate before them, with eyes closed fastidiously? O Goddess have mercy! You know how we are, what we are, the majority of us go home with empty vacuous stomachs. Instead of light, let us pray for food. Very soon the festival of lights will sweep us, illumine us, let us see that inner light, an infinitesimal beatific vision.
In the land besmirched with violence, do we pray for peace? Even now, as I write this, little children in Assam are still in relief camps. What travesty. They are in ' relief ' camps, where there is no relief... what do Pujas mean to them in the heart of rabid violence and hatred? Even if some of them be Muslim children, what does any festivity, festivies which start in the name of religion, but where we are blinded to perversity, what do these mean to them? The mixing of religion with festivity is one good way of diluting anything spiritual. There is a difference between religion and spirituality, but religion is the scaffolding, spirituality, the inner house, with mutiple chambers. One has to go to Ramakrishna Mission, to see the true austerity of the Pujas, berft of the body- only the soul- that is puja, the devout's worship.
As we worship the Mother Goddess, do we not infringe everyday the rights of the girl child, violate this with our day to day existent attitudes- rape, dowry, murder of wife, daughter-in-law et al? Yes we pray, see our salutations mother, they are as ephemeral as the wind you have created, the breeze that soothes, or the tired flower that we trample upon. We should cower in front of you, in these moments. We do not ! We put up a brave facade of hypocrisy. Let us educate the girl child first, honour the house wife, then only will our charms work. And you know it, O Mother, that is why you are incensed at times. But we do not understand. How can we, ignoramuses that we are ! Pujas are everyday, not once in a year, praying is everyday, not once in a year, worship is everyday, not in orchestrated pandals.
Translation of this Puja to action is indeed an inordinate a heavy task. It weighs before us like the sensisible monk. Do we remember what Vivekananda said? He too worshipped the Mother Goddess. He said, feel, feel for the poor, the deprived and the unfortunate, even the reprobate. But we have made him out to be a typecast fanatic. Salutations should be to his words, then comes Puja.