Durga Puja and Ram Lila

MY 200th POST

I had been actually looking forward to celebrate Durga Pooja this year since my sister, my brother in law and my sister’s in laws were at our home this time. Being a Bengali, Durga Pooja is the festival of the year. So here is a photo feature and an account of this year’s Durga Pooja. 🙂

MahaSaptami was a working day for me. Still I and my colleagues went to the pandal near my college to eat the tasty Bhog. Bhog is the sacred food offering to Maa Durga which mainly consists of Khichdi (a dish made of rice and pulses) along with Ghant (mixed vegetables) and sweet items. This bhog is served only after the daily Durga Pooja and during lunch for 3-4 days of the festival. Its distributed freely to anyone asking for it irrespective of class, region and caste. I took this pic with my mobile. It comprised of khichdi, sazi, sweet tomato chutney and rice kheer (payesh).

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Next day on MahaAshtami, we went to the pandal in our locality to offer prayers during Pushpanjali. Traditionally the ritual consists of praising the Goddess with chants and offerings of flowers and fruits. Apparently the chants have changed over time. We were really peeved at chants like यश देहि, पुत्रम देहि etc etc (give fame, give son) It sounded like “give me this give me that”. And above all, “give son” really irked us.  Why can’t it be “संतान देहि” that is “give child”?

Also the prasad distribution was improper and we were really shocked at the way the public jumped and grabbed to get prasad. Ladies came dressed in gaudy sarees and jewelery and behaved worse than  “uncultured ill mannered poor” women. The public and the Puja committee are to be blamed for such behavior and mismanagement. Does this attitude stem from the feeling that “I have contributed Rs x, so let me get its worth back in any and every way possible?”

In the evening and on the next day i.e. on MahaNavami we went for pandal hopping. In my town there are around 20-25 Bengali pandals. Pandal hopping was real fun this year with so many people. The pandals this year had a look of advertising space.

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At one pandal the sponsor was JCB so they had built the pandal as an apartment building.

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But yes, like every year, the pandals were huge and nicely designed.

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We also went to see the most famous Navratri pandal in our city. It was really awesome with the main idol surrounded by moving mythological characters depicting some part of Ramayana.

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There is one pandal where they decorate the whole open ground on some theme every year. This year it was Andhra Pradesh Tourism! So they had some of the major things of A.P. like the Tirupati temple, Vizag docks etc. But they also had a display depicting the army and villagers looking for the Late Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy. :O How is that relevant to the theme and the festival?

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Some of the places had similar idols but some had really different idols of the Goddess. In a Bengali pandal, we have an idol of Ma Durga with ten hands slaying the Mahishasura the demon, her daughters Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati and her sons Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya along with their mounts. This is the most common one :-

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This one was different in the way that all the idols were shown riding a chariot.

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Then there was another one with a weird dragon sort of creature along the Goddess’s mount, the lion; holding a human in its jaws!! Very strange!

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At previous pandal I requested some Dhakis to play for us while we photographed. They were more than happy to comply. It was wonderful to see such people who are happy doing what they do and have not become grumpy and frustrated with poverty. Their jolly nature made me tip them.

The Statesman writes “Durga Puja does not assume the festive aura without the maddening beats of the dhak, the large drum that men hang around their necks and play with two thin sticks to infuse the frenzied rhythm into listeners. Those enchanting beats are enough to conjure up the sights and smells of Durga Puja.”  The art of playing the dhak is now being referred to as a dying profession.

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On the next day, i.e. on Dusshera we went to see Ram Lila and fireworks show in the Dusshera Maidan near our home. All the local politicians who had come kept reminding me of the Ram Lila scene in Delhi 6 where the proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of a politician.

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Also it was quite funny to see that the effigy of Ravan had only nine heads 🙂

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Thats the Ram Lila or enactment of the Ramayana going on in the stage. Kids had a special place for them right in front of the stage.

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The wonderful time spent during the last 3 days came to an end with the burning of effigies and the legendary victory of Good over Evil.

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60 thoughts on “Durga Puja and Ram Lila

  1. A nice read and wonderful pics too! Pandals are a real attraction too… during the pujas.

    Thankfully, here in Blr we did not find any “mad rush” for the “bhog”… and I had the “bhog” on “Kojagori Lakshmi puja” as well 😀

    “Apparently the chants have changed over time. We were really peeved at chants like यश देहि, पुत्रम देहि etc etc (give fame, give son) It sounded like “give me this give me that”. And above all, “give son” really irked us. Why can’t it be “संतान देहि” that is “give child”?”

    Well… “Purush” actually refers to an element of the soul… but now-a-days “purush” refers to “man”. So, words and their meaning and indeed language(s) have changed over the ages… not always has that been a positive change though…

    So, the original mantra may have been “santan”… and have got changed to “putra” now. Or “Putra” may have meant “a child” in ancient times… and have now come to mean ” a son”. Who knows… ???

    Traditions and customs/culture have changed. People have forgotten about the “Syamvar” system… and women are forced to marry according to the dictates of the family/society… atleast in a majority of the cases.

    Learned women/scholars/teachers were referred to as a “brahman”… a personification of enlightenment/knowledge and were reverred. In ancient times that is. They underwent the sacred thread ceremony too. That practice has stopped for several centuries now. Unfortunately!

  2. Wow!!
    am I second to comment on it 😀

    Nice Durga puja it was 🙂 so sweet!
    Seems it was a nice time…..

    I have tagged you in my today’s post, Reema 😀 as per some motivations 😉
    Thanks !!

  3. Congrats on the 200th post Reema.. seems like you have took more time than ur 100 th post… 🙂 🙂

    and the pics are really nice and also its good that you have given explanation to them 🙂

    Kepp writing 🙂

  4. Congrats…! so as i promised i am here for wishing you on the 200th post of yours.. 😀

    and awesome clicks.. there is something special about our festivals that is unexpalinable.. very warm… and filling… 🙂

  5. Good detailed account of the festival. I have seen several pandals as we lived in Kolkata for almost 4 years and one has to be in Kolkata to see the festive atmosphere. At the same time, a lot of Bengalis also travel at this time as there are long holidays.

  6. Congrats for 200th post 🙂

    And u took me to a nostalgic journey!!! I have been itching to see Ramleela but dunno where I can catch it…next year I will try my level best!!!

    As far as ppl scrambling for Prasad well that is nothing new, ppl behave in such a manner ki it isn’t worth repeating!!!

  7. Congrats on getting to 200 posts, keep going! 🙂

    I too go to a bengali friend’s place to check out the pandaals every year. There are lots of good photo opportunities with brilliantly lit pandaals, beautiful idols etc. Haven’t tried “bhog” yet, maybe next year. Though this year things got sour, someone picked my pocket & stole my wallet while dhakis were playing, 1st time this happened to me, eh! 😦

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  9. Hi Reema!

    This post is great. To me it is first-hand information on the goddess Durga worship. It seems a bit strange to ask for a son in front of a feminine deity. But of course, she embodies the feminine force of generation, hope I’m not wrong.

    Many pandals are so beautiful. The colours and the great imagination of your religion is amazing. It really strikes me such richness one, as far as I see it, can see also in Pakistan, which is Muslim India after all. The more monotonous (as for colours) Muslim religion becomes there rich too.

    Ciao

    • One has to attend a typical western festival to form an opinion 🙂 But I can quote one example..of the wedding. The brides over there wear white whereas over here its red dress with golden jewellery…wedding is a riot of colors over here in India! White represents a widow in India!

  10. Loved the post! Am really late here – but it brought back so many memories of Durga Puja, the Bhog and the whole atmosphere. The pics are lovely! And I love the Dhak. I went to a Durga Puja after years and relived it all again, this time and the dhaks were what I liked the most!

    Congratulations on your 200th post!

  11. 200th post!! Wow! That’s a cool milestone to achieve!!
    Hearty congratulations!! 🙂

    And thanks for giving so many insights on the Durga Puja!! 🙂
    All the pandaals are so very beautiful and creative! Impressive! 🙂

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