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).
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.
At one pandal the sponsor was JCB so they had built the pandal as an apartment building.
But yes, like every year, the pandals were huge and nicely designed.
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.
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?
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 :-
This one was different in the way that all the idols were shown riding a chariot.
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!
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.
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.
Also it was quite funny to see that the effigy of Ravan had only nine heads 🙂
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.
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.