"HIMER PARAS MONE JAGE,
SHOBI JENO NOTUN LAGE,
MONE PAKHI UTHLO GAYE,
AAGAMONIR KHOBOR PAYE,
SHISHIRVAJA NOTUN BHORE MAA AASCHE AALO KORE".
The dewdrops early morning that take the vibrant fresh color of the green leaves and everything around me that morning seems to be so new. The chirping bird that knows every new ray of light is the new ray of hope and virgin beginnings awakes in my heart even brighter when it realizes that Durga puja is just around the city of joy - Kolkata. Maa Durga is coming with love, happiness,joy,power and the famous message of " good over evil."
I was in the city two days before Durga puja began. A ten day trip was a memory forever. So, if it is the nursery rhyme which goes like .... pussycat pussycat where had you been? i would say, I had been to Kolkata to see the Queen! I don't know how this small blog can do justice to that smell of shuili and kaash flowers, the melodious melody of the dhaak echoing in the entire city, the perfect combination of red and white covering the innocent souls and the beauty, transparent devotion and submission of the idol makers carving the leaf like eyes that seem to speak of Maa Durga. Apart from the shopping spree before the festival,when people with all their round the year saving get the best things for their family, they buy new clothes,new shoes, and what not.
Its a matter of surprise to me how an inanimate mass of clay is turned to into beautiful pieces of art and sculpture to which the entire Kolkata bows down considering it to be the source of immense power . An idol that symbolizes women empowerment and uncomprehending 'Nari Shakti'. One can hear the purohit pandits enchanting loud the 'mantras' in various pandals - the epitome of unconditioned love and creativity of the prevalent culture. Also known as navratri, dusssehra or durgostav, all the age old customs,mantra chanting,community gathering, traditional music and folk are culminated in a ten day dedicated celebration. I was always a curious child. I asked my grandmother what was the significance of the idol killing a man and sitting on a lion. She referred the animal as her ' vahana' or the vehicle on which she mounts representing their incarnation of inferior birth. She killed the demon - Mahisasur with a ' trishul' acquiring the name of " Mahisasur Mardini ".
They erect ''bamboo houses'' in fields, on roads and almost every gullee of the cities not only in kolkata but Asansol, Siliguri etc. Late night pandal hopping, legs breaking down with pain, a new wish ,a new prayer in every individual visiting the attractive pandals where the beauty of maa durga's idol is extravagantly accompanied by her four children ,the lavish local delicacies and the most famous sweets of the city enchant the air of the place. Decked up people who come to take solace in the lap of the goddess is a mesmerizing site. From the day of Mahalaya, the first day of the ten days of the puja is marked by heavy crowd including people who come to see the beauty of the city specially on those days. A crooked din of men and women in the local bazaars trying on trendy clothes and accessories. The clinking of the bangles jam a new sound of the their own.The puja is being seen concluding with the red blurry curtain of powder splashed in the air, the crimson red on the forehead of married women , the call of the counch shells, the young girls and women screaming with heavy hearts bidding farewell to the goddess. They rejoice with the exit of the goddess and her children - Ganesha, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati in form of the traditional bengali folk dance " dhunochi naach " and ''sindur khela''.
After the celebration , one can witness the pangs of aching hearts in the ghats as the idol sinks into the Ganga wishing her " Aaste bochor abar hobe. Bolo durga mai ki joye '' marking the superior power of the goddess. As the idol retreats to the water bed , the hearts of the devotees also sink as the realization dawns upon them that the celebration has come to an end. Shubho Bijoya is wished to all elders promoting love and harmony by touching feet and hugging. Bijoya refers to the retreat of Maa durga from her mother's place to her husband's house.
Kolkata restores its day to day life in light of fading festive mood blessings spread on them by ''the creator''. People are seen travelling to and from work again after a long series of happy and fun-frolly days. Women buying vegetables from vociferous vegetables sellers with sun shining bright. Late running students trying to catch hold of their school buses, etc. The ' public of Kolkata ', the Bengalis constitute the major population. The climate of Kolkata is tropical wet and dry. But however, the rolling down of sweat ,heat and fatigue hardly fails the enthusiam of its residents. One has a never ending list of sight seeing from Victoria Memorial to Marble palace. From New market to Jorashankho Thakur bari ( the house of Rabindranath tagore). From amusement parks like Nicco park, eco park to Botanical garden and the most famous Alipore zoo. Eden gardens keep the spirit of cricket lovers high whether in front of a television where the family together prays for its India to win or in between close lanes. As Vir Sanghavi said ,"..... but if you want a city with a soul,come to Calcutta " because everything is a bit sweeter in this magical city where one does not have to think twice before striking a quick conversation with a stranger. It was time for me to go back too.