Its that time of the year again. The time when we are all supposed to feel happy for some reasons which keep changing with age, location and circumstances. I would not like to indulge in another non-conformist observation of the bengali Phyche, I am just trying to figure out the need to feel happy or or-not-so-happy JUST because its Durga Puja.
Its been five years now since I was home for Durga Puja, I am sure its the same for many other people, but hardly anyone whose travel plans are not hindered by prohibitive flight costs and visa problems. These five years have changed a lot about the way I used to percieve the totality of this festival. I had taken for granted that the ambience will be thick with sound of fire crackers and the air, heavy with smoke of gun powder on the morning of the first day of Navratra as people celebrated the arrival of the Goddess. AsI had seen it happen for eighteen of the twenty three years I have lived. Once out of Bengal, Mahalaya was nothing different from just another day, but even then there were people (Staunch Bengalis, needless to mention) who would get together in a hostel common room on a chilly October morning and take control of the Television after a squirmish arising out of regional sentiments to make sure that the thirty minutes program on the arrival of the Goddess was not missed.
However, even this proposition was lost last year when I woke up to a sunny morning at Bombay to suddenly realize that that was the day when the air was supposed to be thick with gun powder smoke.
The size and scale of celebration of Durga Puja vary with the ambience as well. Somwhere its a modest little celebration for a closed community (Pilani), at places its a wasteful show of wealth and redundancy of the same (Hiranandani Gardens, Mumbai), somewhere its scale is an indicator of the strength of the community (Refinery Nagar, Mathura) and yet somewhere else its just what its meant to be, a festival celebrating the spirit of humanity where we all gather around one place wearing new clothes, taking part simple rituals and sharing the joy being where we belong (my little hamlet, somewhere on the brink of modernization, which I call 'home').