Author: Ishita Biswas
Pujo season - the fragrance of the 'sheuli' flower invites one into the season of joy, festivities and togetherness. With the beat of the ‘Dhaak’ and ‘Dhunuchi Naach’ one cannot hold back anymore. One must give in - into the celebration of Ma Durga coming home.
Since my childhood, Durga puja has always been a special time of the year for me; true for most Bengalis, I would say. As the years passed, and I changed cities, I still made the time - at least for the ‘Ashtami Pushpanjali’ if nothing else - the most auspicious time of the five days. Being in a pandal, whether in a tiny community in Lonavala or among the exquisite works of art in Kolkata, it felt like – home.
Finding fellow Bongs in all cities that I have lived in and hearing the chatter and excitement in the air - it’s a feeling that comes and goes at this time in the same fervour every year. Except this year.
It's strange how we all relate to Durga Ma as the symbol of power and strength, which each hand holding a piece of weapon. To me, this year, I just saw her as Ma; and all I wanted was her warmth, her protection. Like the feeling of an unborn in her mother’s womb. That was the home I yearned, and a very selfish one at that. I refused to share this space and comfort with anyone - just Ma and me in our own enclosure. The freedom to stay curled up and unseen - at a time when everything seems unfamiliar and new - that was my celebration.
Puja for me, this year, did not bring the 'Dhaak' or the 'aarti', the colours, flavours or smells. It brought me, instead, the feeling of a warm embrace, in complete solitude. It felt like home. I guess celebration can be just a feeling of peace sometimes - which is precious when times are chaotic.
This Pujo was different, quiet, and for sure, one that I cherished deeply.
Saree on Durga Maa: Handwoven hand block printed cotton saree "Sensuous Wine"
Saree on devotee: Handwoven organza saree "Alabaster Blossom"