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The Grand Festival – Durga Puja

By BN Sinha, Kolkata

Among the many festivals we observe, there is always a controversy or difference of opinion which is the major festival observed by us or our community, may be Shree Krishna Janmastami , Raas Utsav or Rath Yatra , it is rather very easy to confess that the most celebrated festival in Bishnupriya Manipuri community is Durga Puja. Reason may be any or many; the fact is that Durga puja always witness us to visit our native place, as often it becomes the official visit to home for the people who are out of their native places. While acknowledging every individuals wish list I must add another that holds good every year when most of us declare " Ebosor te pujat gore jitouga" ( I will go home puja this year).

As I belong to the city Silchar, Assam, I have always witnessed Durga puja as the most celebrated among all the Hindu festivals. Puja always meant homecoming. In the childhood days we used to anxiously wait for the autumn to arrive that we may receive the compulsory annual gift from parents precisely known as "pujar footi". As a child it was always waiting patiently for the presets to arrive. A new set of cloths somehow signified the arrival of Goddess into our life and pandals. In the teen days, puja was more about fun. No studies and most importantly four new dresses for the four days. The best to be kept for the Astami, the evening were engaged in eating out and pandal hopping to each and every corner of the city.

From the very childhood I have seen that Puja starts with Birendra Krishna Bhadra's immoral chandipath at four in the morning on Mahalaya. And it was spectacular to see that thousands of people irrespective of ages come out on the streets in the wee hours in the morning and the street witness a packed crowd. It is probably the unique way for the Silcharites to welcome Ma Durga which we generally don't see in any part of the world.

It was always believed that the best pujas are only in Kolkata. For me, I have been to Kolkata only twice during Puja. First time in 1996, that year I was totally overwhelmed by the crowds everywhere to the extent that I even felt slightly scared despite being with friends. This year I am again in Kolkata in pre-puja days and will celebrate till Astami as I am scheduled to go to Silchar, Assam on Navami to celebrate half of the puja days with parents.

The pre-puja days atmosphere in Kolkata is incredibly awesome and the jubilant. The mood of euphoria among the people is just cannot be expressed in words. It is a human flood in the markets and in the streets.

There have always been two sides of Durga puja , the economical and conventional. The two stands interlaced, now working in tandem now bumping. And keeping with changes in the nature of festivities, the idea of homecoming during Puja seldom remains inert, motionless. Rather it evolves and transforms itself.

This year Puja in my village reaches its twentieth year and consequently the budget for Puja also reached all time high till now. Thus it is definitely a must to go home in my village for Puja celebration this year……..

A very Happy Durga Puja to all.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Being a Guwahatian had an additional delight. Apart from celebrating the high octane spring festival Rongali Bihu in mid April, we also celebrate Durga Puja in equal splendor and vigor.

    As school kids we really looked forward to both these festive vacations because the one element that is common to both these occasion is the loads of fun element. Off course it can also be a burden for a Guwahatian parent's pocket because it meant getting new dresses twice a year. So apart from Bihur footi, hell would break loose if I didn't get my Pujar footi.

    For non resident Guwahatian student or Professionals, planning of holiday meant visiting home centering around these two festivals. Even if we miss one, we try to make it up by being in the other one.

    For lafanga youths, it is the time of the year to get over the last heart break or the sound tight slap from a hot-headed girl and start life anew. Everything starts all over again and surely everyone deserves a second chance. This is the beauty of the season and I for one love this spirit of Guwahatians.

    Now you might be asking me what I am tomtoming about and where the heck is the spiritual elements of Guwahatians during these auspicious occasions. I guess it is for the 40 plus and I will speak about it once I cross the bridge.

    As far as importance of Durga Puja in Bishnupriya Manipuri culture goes, I am not very sure why should should we compare it with Shree Krishna Janmastami, Raas Utsav or Rath Yatra because we are Vaishnavs and Ma Durga is essentially a Shaivite goddess. Off course some would argue she is Param Vaishnavi but I don't think she is really an important deity because we rarely see pandals in BM villages.

    The fervor of Silcharites which you are associating with BM culture during puja is because the brand Durga Puja has transcended all boundaries and is now essentially a secular festival even though the ritual that is followed in pujas are primarily Shaivite rituals. In the spirit of capitalism, secularism or whatever be the ideology, it is good that we are also part of mainstream festivals but it is also important for us to learn that Ras Leela is distinctively our own and very much part of Vaishnav culture.

    Anyway, I will be missing the thick of action in Guwahati once again like the last few years but wonderful memories of yore remains and for the meantime I will live with that.

    Wish all and everyone a very Happy Durga Puja.


  3. Just a little correction. Goddess Durga is associated with Shaktism and not Shaivaite cult.

  4. The worship of Goddess Durga is very popular among Hindus. She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of Her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya, and daughter Jyoti. There are many temples dedicated to Durga's worship in India.

    Durga, Durga ma pics, Goddess Durga, Durga Photo, Durga Puja, Durga ma picture, Durga Mata


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