WRITE FOR TOI BLOGS Durga Puja is actually a celebration of life
It won’t be entirely an exaggeration to say that Bengalis world over spend a significant amount of their time planning and deciding what to do during the Durga Pujas. Most of them wear multiple sets of clothes – mind you, there’s a morning outfit and an evening outfit, plus emergency backup outfits. And of course, there are important decisions to make – like what to eat on which day. From the warm khichudi, papad bhaja as bhog in pandals to the street stalls set up to serve delectable dishes like egg rolls, kobiraji and mughlai parota, you are game to feast on anything and everything.
So prior to the pujas, the air is absolutely thick with a feeling one gets just before the starting, the unravelling of something extremely huge — the feeling you get just before reaching the peak of a much awaited climax.
You will get to see sweaty Bongs, who under the twelve o’clock sun, sits in an auto patiently stuck in a huge traffic jam in the heart of a buzz-filled street near Dakshinapan or Hatibagan market, clutching onto innumerable bulging shopping bags of different shapes and sizes. This is called Puja shopping.
By walking down the lanes and by-lanes of the city of Kolkata, and its every nook and corner, particularly during the Pujas, you slowly start feeling the pulse of the city. It is a reverberating rhythm which amplifies and resounds in the sounds of the dhak. It’s a feeling. You can not only hear it, but feel it — you get goose bumps when the dhakis first begin to play their beat. The city reverberates with the echo of conch shells, which is no less than a divine feeling.
Durga Puja is actually, the celebration of ‘life’ and the joy of ‘living’ more than anything else. It’s like all the joys of this ‘city of joy’ is out on its very streets. Durga Puja becomes an expression of the city itself. It is almost that the city bursts into laughter during these few days.