Durga Pujo Memories

As a kid, I would accompany dad to the Durga Puja celebrations at Kamla Park in Anand. We would do that every year. Even when I didn’t understand who or what God could be, even after I stopped believing in God. Irrespective of my religious status, I always loved and looked forward to those visits, even more eagerly than I looked forward to the garba later in the night. I would find those idols of the Gods and Goddesses mesmerizing. It felt like being in the presence of something huge and majestic, in those golden lights, those huge idols, the sound of the drum in the backdrop, everything.


After I moved out to pursue my Masters and then shifted to a working life, I missed those visits, very badly. I miss dad too, and I miss those visits with dad even more. Each year, dad would tell me the story of how Goddess Durga defeated the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura, and point out everybody in the pandal to me, and tell me their stories too – Lord Ganesha, Goddess Durga, the buffalo, Mahishasura, Karthikeya, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. These are Goddess Durga’s four children.


So, this year, when I got a chance to visit the Durga Puja pandal in Vadodara at the Subhapura Atithi Gruh, I jumped with joy at the idea. Dad won’t be there, I could still visit the pandal. It wasn’t what I grew up seeing in Anand, but I felt the joy and the nostalgia for sure. The strangest thing was people standing and sitting in the sanctum sanctorum of the pandal and clickling selfies, candid pictures and pouting pictures. I had never seen something of the sort ever before. I visited Anand the next day and decided to visit the Pandal that still set up at Kamla Park. And I found kids running in the sanctum sanctorum. I was lost at this. As a kid, I was strictly instructed not to cross the sacred holy wall, lined with a cloth, that separated the area where God would stand from the one where I could. I had never imagined or considered I could step beyond that, that area was reserved for those worthy of it, maybe the pundit or the family performing the puja, or something like that. Definitely not for candid selfies and pouty pictures.


The Pandal is Anand was no longer that majestic presence anymore, the size had shrinked, the decorations had changed drastically, things felt different. Both in Anand, and in Vadodara, I got a chance to witness the cultural program. It was not like it used to be when I was a kid. My classmates would be super excited about the program. I thought may be I was just overthinking, so I asked a few of my Bong friends, if they felt things had changed or was it just me. And boy, almost all of them felt that way. What do you guys think? Drop me a note.












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