Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
My wife wants to take a break during the Durga Pujas this year. Her boss has promised to give her a few days off during this major festival of the Bengalis. She has plans to visit Patiala for a day, pick up sonny, and visit Amritsar for a couple of days. So far, so good. The only stumbling block in the realization of her plan is yours truly.
I have a strong affinity for Durga Puja. More than four decades later, as I reminisce about the Durga Pujas spent in Shillong in a joint family with many uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends, they appear to me laden with good memories and the best times I have had in my life. What I truly miss now is something that transpires on the final day of the festival viz., Vijaya Dashami. After the immersion of the Goddess in the Umkrah River at Polo, at home followed a ritual of tying 'Aparajita' on our hands. All the members of the family would gather in the living room and a custom of receiving blessings from elders and touching of their feet was a permanent fixture every year. Four decades later, most of the elders now reside only in memories, and are showering their blessings on us from their heavenly abode.
My son has grown up in Faridabad. Unlike Shillong where all Hindus join in the celebration of Durga Puja and a festive atmosphere permeates the whole town, the celebration in the place where my son has spent his life is almost non-existent except for a few small pockets where Bengalis reside and have set up community pandals or they celebrate it in their Kali Mandir. Often to make it worse during his school days he had often had to write exams in his school which were scheduled on the days when Durga Puja was in its phase of importance.
As I ponder over my childhood and that of my son specifically with respect to the most important festival in the calendar of a Bengali Hindu I feel the breakup of the joint family system, the demands of survivability and aspiration inherent in humans, and a slackness on the part of the family to infuse a sense of affinity towards the positive sides of their heritage are making our children drift from the values of their roots. I don't think my son will ever experience what it means to have your family around you during the most festive of times. Therefore, it's imperative for the family members to come together once a year and reinforce their familial ties and celebrate the joyous festival with conviviality at the center.
You may be wondering why I am averse to traveling during Durga Puja. It's probably because I still romanticize the good days of my childhood during those festive days when we would be spoilt with gifts and pocket money by our elders and a relaxation of the discipline of returning home within a fixed time. There would be new cinema releases in town during Durga Puja, and we would often sneak into a theater screening one of them. I would rather sit at home now and watch the celebration of the Goddess across the world on the television screen, visit a few pandals in NCR, and hopefully remember my forefathers, father, uncles and aunts and friends who have left their mortal existence yet are inextricably linked to my being...
May Maa Durga bring happiness in the lives of all and ward off evils that seem to have gripped human beings across the globe.
More by : Subhajit Ghosh