Durga Puja: The Queen of All Festivals
India is a land of festivals. Being a secular nation, there is no such thing as a dearth of issues to rejoice on this land of wonders. From Christmas to Eid ul Zoha, Independence Day to the Cricket World Cup, there’s hardly something that Indians don’t like celebrating. Merely level us in direction of an event and we’re all for it. However hidden amongst this lengthy listing of celebrations is a gem within the type of Durga Puja, one thing celebrated in its full glory within the Bengali group.So, what precisely IS the Durga Puja?Properly, for the sake of readability, Puja refers to a spiritual competition. Nonetheless, for us Bengalis, Durga Puja is much less of a ‘Puja’ and extra of the embodiment of the spirit of festiveness. What precisely does that imply? Properly, allow us to return a couple of millenniums to reply that query.The custom of invoking the goddess Durga (or the mom, often known as ‘Ma’) is first thought-about to have been performed by Lord Ram earlier than he went forth to battle Ravana, as documented within the epic Ramayana. Nonetheless, the custom lay dormant until concerning the late 1500s, when the landlords in Bengal took it up. It was lastly given its remaining kind within the 18th century as Baroyaari (or 12 pals’) puja, a time period which lastly got here to confer with group sponsored Durga Pujas held in Kolkata.Basically, all elements of India celebrates this era, however within the type of Navratri. It constitutes of 9 days’ price of fasting, which ends with Dussehra, a day the place an effigy of Ravana is burned as a approach to present that evils are all the time championed by good as Lord Ram had championed above Ravana.In BengalIn Bengal, nevertheless, the that means of those 10 days are fairly totally different.My earliest reminiscences of Durga Puja are that of waking up in the midst of the evening to hearken to Mahalaya on the radio. It’s a programme that has been airing on the primary day of the Bengali month Ashwin for greater than 7 many years and four generations of Bengalis, forcing them to get up at four am, one thing I nonetheless do religiously yearly on that individual day. Though the magic of the scent, the half awoken self and understanding Ma is coming has considerably diminished with the years, the thought of one thing so collectively highly effective that it makes an entire group stay up for it nonetheless holds an excessive amount of allure nonetheless.MaWe deal with Ma Durga as one thing extra than simply the goddess. Whereas it’s true that she embodies the uncooked energy (or Shakti) that overcame evil by slaying the evil demon Mahisasur (therefore the time period Mahisasur-mardini), she is way MUCH extra than simply that. The ten days that begin with Mahalaya signify her annual go to to her paternal residence in Bengal with four of her youngsters. As such Ma is, on the identical time, a mom, a spouse, a goddess, and most significantly, a member of our household. We pamper her, we respect her, we love her and we like her. She is greater than only a divinity.To us Bengalis, she embodies our truest nature. Regardless of the place a Bengali is likely to be, come Durga Puja, he/she feels a connection to his/her household.THIS is what it means to rejoice Pujo (a colloquial time period for Durga Puja).Frankly, it can’t be in comparison with anything on the earth. However, keep in mind the togetherness one will get when visiting the household, or the heat throughout Christmas, or the sensation you get while you go to your loved ones after a 12 months away? That’s what Pujo means to a Bengali. It’s greater than celebrating a spiritual competition. The concept of Pujo is bringing everybody collectively. And what higher approach can there be than a mom facilitating all that? We eat, we cry, we discuss, be comfortable and rejoice one thing that’s virtually extraordinary anyplace else on the earth. It doesn’t matter what you faith is. Whether or not a Muslim, a Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain or something in between (together with atheists), in case you are a Bengali at coronary heart, Durga Puja is for you. From visiting the tens of hundreds of makeshift podiums (or pandals) for hoisting Ma Durga to having a cup of tea in the midst of the evening (underneath a tree within the native store as a result of it appears to inevitably rain throughout Puja nights today, particularly in case you are out at 2 am) to dancing throughout the idol immersion ceremony (referred to as Bhashan), Durga Puja is one thing that it’s important to expertise at the least as soon as in your life.Oh, and did I point out delicious luchi and khichudi as lunch throughout Ashtami and the beautiful women who grace the pandals? Pujo is price it… consider you me.And All of it EndsAnd as soon as Pujo is finished, whereas we’re all unhappy, we pray for Ma to return safely to her heavenly abode atop the Himalayas. Thus begins the watch for the subsequent Puja. One other 12 months to spend earlier than our pricey mom comes again. As a result of Pujo by no means ends, it merely will get shifted by one other 12 months. In spite of everything, Ma is just like the mom who desires you to be comfortable even when she is gone.Come, be part of this glorious competition of togetherness.