As the New Year begins, one of the first things that most of us Bengalis do, is scan our calendars to mark the dates for the Durga Puja as that helps us to plan our leave forecast for the year. So if we have family and friends living out of the city or the country, we inform them in advance the good time for a family reunion. The month of October therefore, holds a very special place for most Bengalis.
As a child when I would visit the pandal with my parents, I would ask my mother why we celebrated this festival with so much fervour. She explained, this is a time when we welcome home the daughter Durga along with her children – Saraswati, Laxmi, Ganesh and Kartik, while the head of the family – Shiva looks over them as they make their journey to Earth and back.
Since it is such a happy occasion, we celebrate it by wearing new clothes, spending time with family and friends, relishing all the goodies and pandal hopping during this four day Durga Puja festival.
Durga Puja is a festival where Durga comes home to bless everyone. The happiness and excitement experienced by everyone is similar to that of a married daughter who comes home to visit her parents for a few days. Now that I am married, I kind of relate to it and understand why my mother and other ladies at the pandal shed a tear or two when the Goddess is taken for immersion at the end of the festival.
Durga symbolizes Shakti and the destroyer of evil. In today’s context, Durga appears as a multi-tasking goddess who nurtures, protects and blesses her loved ones; maybe a gentle reminder that this is exactly what all mothers do for their children. They nurture, protect and take care of their children and at the same time impart good values of honesty and truthfulness as a part of the upbringing. Maybe these festivities are a gentle reminder how we are connected to this divine and selfless teaching.