Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Durga Ma Ki Jai

I can feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. Okay, maybe not the toes but I do feel Durga Puja all around me. From Chitaranjan Park to Model Town, Mayur Vihar to Pashchim Vihar, pandals are being set up, boards are being put up, and there's this sense of excitement in the air. This 'pre-buzz' phase of the oncoming festive season is the perfect build-up ever. Period.

There's a change in the air, it's much cooler now. People are falling ill, including me, but not complaining as they all know it's thanks to the change in weather. A change that is good and most welcome by any Delhiite, who, by the time it's October is quite sick and tired of the heat and is really looking forward to the chilly weather that accompanies the 3 months of November, December and January.

Having lived in a Bengali society aptly named 'Anand Lok' as a kid I've had the best times of my life during this very period where Durga Ma and Kali Ma become more important that our actual Ma. The kids, especially, are the ones most looking forward to those 5 days of merriment that ensue from Panchami to Navami (hope I got that right). Starting with Anand Mela, it goes on to 3 days of cultural festivals in which a number of those very kids participate in and make their parents proud other than just having fun themselves. The slightly elder ones have a reason to stay out till late and enjoy beers in parks and whatever terraces they find open. The uncles and aunties get to dress fine and meet up with their peers over scotch and gossip after each gala night of plays, dances and music shows. Durga Puja really does cater to everyone.

Diwali might be a bigger festival for Hindus but the only problem is that Diwali is, at max, a 2 day event. Whereas Durga Puja, including the preparations, feels like it lasts for a month. And that's where Durga Puja takes the cake when it comes to enjoyment. People around you are generally happy. Uncles don't complain when they see you smoke a cigarette. Aunties are more than happy to see a drunk you dancing after the Dhanuchi performance, and the ladies adore the attention they get during Dandiya. The kids, on the other hand, enjoy every little thing about this time. Be it a quiz competition, painting competition, 'lemon-on-spoon race', musical chairs, magic shows and what not, it's as if the kids are in Disneyland for those few days.

Tambola (Bingo) at night is an experience they never forget and chilling at the pandal till midnight gives them a feeling that they've finally grown up. This is the time when kids actually hit puberty and not when they get their first hair down there. All this happens without a hint of religion being forced down on anyone. Apart from the morning and evening aarti, there's hardly anything that would make you feel that anyone's trying to promote their own religious propaganda and promoting anything in the name of God. In fact, a lot of good comes out of it too, like the daily bhog in the afternoon where, in the olden days, people used to actually sit down on tables with the whole colony and eat together. And all the kids would proudly serve everyone before they had a bite themselves. Things might've changed now, with the buffet system and all, but the essence still remains.

Durga Ma is probably the most fun Goddess of all time. The only competition she has is Ganpati, who, again, is a cute looking God who probably loves to have fun. I might not believe in any religion in particular but that does not stop me from enjoying Durga Puja one bit. Also, I'm not a Bengali, and that's the beauty of it, really.

So here's a big shout out to Durga Puja and all the happy times that are about to come. Brace yourselves, Bengali's are going to wake up from their slumber and get in action for this annual event.

Bolo Durga Ma Ki Jai!

PS - All image credit to Surabhi Chowdhury.


  1. Khoob Bhaalo!
    Yes Durga Puja, the build up, the excitement, the lights, the air around the festival is like a constant high. We Mayur Vihar kids know what it was like and what it is now. Nothing has changed! The non-religious nature of the occasion is very uplifting and liberating and yes a LOT of fun! For me it's about all the amazing non-vegetarian food served. Win!
    So looking forward to it!

  2. You can feel it in the air :')

  3. You can feel it in the air :')