As I was savoring a plate of Bijoya special Bengali sweets and sulking how quickly the four days of Durga Puja flew by, I decided to blog about it. Now, that's the best thing about being a writer. We, writers, write to taste life twice, once in the moment and the other in retrospect.
This year, the Durga Puja began on a very gloomy note for me as I had tonsillitis and fever on Panchami night (6th October). I was so upset that all my plans from 7th to 10th October will be spoiled because of the fever. But some miracle happened and I started feeling better on Shashti morning (7th October).
I went for some pandal hoping with my family. Since it was morning, there was less crowd. As I looked into Ma Durga's eyes, I felt a blanket of peace enveloping me. I offered my prayers to the Goddess and again looked at her divine face. I felt calm, protected and happy. The feeling was synonymous with how a person feels when he is with his mother. It was a beautiful moment that I had with Her on Shashti morning
Festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali allows me to bond with my family on a deeper level. I try my best to give them as much time as possible. I had long conversations with my father and grandmother. I made them smile, we took lots of selfies and had delicious food.
On the second day of Durga Puja, Saptami (8th October), I was invited to a close friend's apartment Puja.
It was wonderful to see the devotion of the ladies in the apartment, all bonding together to celebrate Durga Puja. They welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to be a small part of their world.
My friend and I had prasad there, and then we went for some Pandal hopping in the evening. The crowd was absolutely crazy, but that's what makes the Durga Puja of Kolkata truly special. People tirelessly celebrate in these 4 days, hoping from pandal to pandal. Kolkata doesn't sleep in these 4 days. Whether it is 3pm or 3am, you can find this mad crowd.
The group of Dhakis who were playing the dhak (drum) in one of the pandals made me stop there for a few minutes. This sound of dhak totally captures the essence of Durga Puja. Looking at Ma Durga's idol and listening to the dhak has a magical effect.
The third day of Durga Puja, Ashtami ( 9th October) started with the morning Pushpanjali. I woke up in the morning with the chants from the nearby pandal. I took a bath, wore a new saree and went to the pandal to offer my prayers to the Supreme Mother.
Pushpanjali is an integral part of Durga Puja. It is a ritual where Anjali mantras are recited by devotees and flowers are offered to the Goddess. I cannot think of Durgashtami without Anjali. After the ritual, I felt wonderful, as if all my prayers were answered. That's the magic of faith, I guess.
In the Ashtami evening, I went to a traditional zamindar house to see the Sandhi Puja.
Sandhi Puja marks the passing of Ashtami into Navami. This is symbolically the time of dusk and lasts for about 48 minutes. It is believed that during this time, Devi Durga slayed the demons Chanda and Munda.
On the fourth day of Durga Puja, Navami (10th October), I met my school friends and we had a great time. One of them is getting married in November this year and so we had lots to talk about.
I had plans of some pandal hoping in the night, but it started raining so heavily that I had to ultimately cancel the plan.
Overall, I had a great Durga Puja with my family and friends. On the day of Vijaya Dashami, an uncanny sadness filled my heart, but there are sweets to cheer me up and beautiful memories ingrained in my heart. And of course, I am looking forward to Diwali now.
Here's wishing all of you Subho Bijoya with a platter of Bengali sweets.
How did you celebrate Durga Puja and Navratri?