Monday, October 22, 2007

Homecoming of a Married Daughter

I didn’t enjoy her home coming when I witnessed it for the first time . It was all so weird. First of all my logical mind questioned the very concept of her having her Mayika( parents’ house) here . I mean didn’t we all know that she is Shailadhiraj Tanya.( daughter of the kings of Mountains-Himalaya) . Then of all places , how come this city of joy - so much towards east , is her parents’ place . Then she will supposedly come with children and pets in tow. And who are these children? I am ok with the two sons- Kartikeya and Ganesh . But Laxmi and Saraswati as her daughters . Hello, something is wrong here…. I knew that Laxmi came out from the sea at the time of Amrita Manthan. And Saraswati as Ganesh’s sister….something was terribly incorrect. Then comes her daughter in law- Ganesh’s wife. I know this cute elephant faced Ganesh is fond of sweets and may be banana also- but his wife cannot be a banana tree. As far as I know , there are two wives-Riddhi and Siddhi .So which one is this Kaula bau ( the Banana wife) .
Then the days of her staying , marked by rituals and festivities..starting from Mahalaya. Finally on Dashmi day she will be sent back to her husband’s place ( which as per my knowledge is Kailash Mountain) by bidding her farewell at the riverside. But how will she travel by the river route to Kailash? No one answered these queries for me… So the confusion combined with the pandal hopping frenzy almost made me dislike her visit. I ignored her last year as well, despite the lovely sound of Daak ( traditional drums) announcing her arrival from all corners. But then after witnessing her homecoming for three years consecutively...finally I have come to terms with Durga –the most beloved daughter and also the most revered mother deity of Calcutta. I now realize that myths are very living breathing concepts which change colour and tones of the region they are told and followed.
But despite this philosophical realization, I am still very envious with Ma Durga. I mean , this city which is known to go its way without caring a bit about the rest of the country or the world , suddenly gears up every year to welcome Ma Durga. All rules of living in the city are changed. The city looks like so much different , so much better in many ways. And that it is a god-less communist state makes this festival even more special. Even those who claim to be atheists are found active inside these puja pandals ( the temporary abode for Ma –durga) . I don’t recall any other festival in India which captures the pleasure and pain of a married daughter’s homecoming so beautifully .
I feel sad that the most enthusiastic participants in these pandals are more involved with the game part of it and ignore the sensibilities involved. Rituals are followed without understanding the meaning behind them. These days it has become more of a competition –getting the prizes for most innovative pandal, getting maximum media coverage and so on. People come up with weird ideas for Puja pandals- Titanic Ship , Harry potter’s Hogwarts school , Eiffel Tower etc. The long queues for the famous pandals still scare me. I prefer to visit only the small puja pandals of my colony and in the neighbourhood. And some of the statues are so beautiful. Even I, who is not all that religious feel so moved in front of the statues.
And once again yesterday , it was Dashmi, when everybody was wishing Shubho Bijaya– it was time for Durga to return. I was thinking why the stay has to be so short for her. Why such joyous farewell ...Don’t they want her to stay permanently in some temples like rest of the country ? Perhaps no…she is not a goddess for this city. She is a much married daughter having responsibility of kids and household. It is time for her to leave for her own world – and her folks to get back to the business as usual.
Find some of puja photos here .

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