Durga Puja

Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals in Bengal. It is not only the time when Goddess Durga returns to her fathers house , but it is also the time for all festive loving Bengalis to get together and celebrate the occasion for 4 days at a stretch. It is a time when Bengalis staying outside Bengal go back to their homes, the nuclear families get together and worship Goddess Durga. For ages the trend of worshipping has changed and it has a new look every year. Apart from the shopping spree before the festival , when people with all their round the year savings get the best things for their family. They bug new clothes , new shoes and what not. Kolkata , the heart of the Bengali civilization dresses up as a whole. In earlier times it was landlords (zamindars)who actually arranged and spent for the pujas , but in course of time with the rise of the great Bengali middleclass the focus has shifted to barwari ( public) pujas. They erect pandals in fields , on roads and almost every gullee (street) and road of the cities , not only Kolkata but Durgapur, Asansol ,Berhampur, Siliguri etc. Public puja's based on collections from public are so popular that even villages have caught up and they celebrate it in there own style. While pandals in cities are built by reputed builders with a theme and lots of lightings and shops giving the appearance of a fair . The themes are sometimes based on simple facts , wonderful structures or even latest events. It can be said that it is an way of providing tribute to the greatest works of humanity. Of late, the latest trend is to inaugurate the pujas by famous personalities , cricket stars and popular politicians. But the pujas in the villages are a lot different. It is quite detached from the city pujas which is more about pomp and show. The village pujas , and especially the family pujas ( there are no zamindars any more) give us a glimpse of the actual festivity. It is not about just lighting crackers and cultural functions. This is an occasion to get together with the family , meeting them after a year or even years. This is the occasion when everyone ,whether a ceo of a company or the principal of a college ,they get on like children do and intimately entwine the relations more stoutly. All the elders show the proper way of doing the pujas , even the children of the family get do mix with each other under the open sky and run around and enjoy the true essence of freedom. I have been fortunate enough to witness such pujas from my childhood in my maternal uncles home. Every year for the last 25 years approximately the pujas have added a different vigor and dimension to the worship. More than the worship , the community work at the time of floods is more to cherish. Here are some of the snippets of the pujas which show the fun and the effort that brings together people, binds relationships and teaches people to cooperate and succeed.

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