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HomeLifestyleDurga Puja 2021: In pandemic, some childhood nostalgia and a wierd disenchantment

Durga Puja 2021: In pandemic, some childhood nostalgia and a wierd disenchantment

I bear in mind a time when, as a child, I used to be going via the ‘abey-yaar‘, ‘sunn-na‘ part, a lot to the chagrin of my dad and mom, principally my mom. Typically, it could simply slip out of my mouth throughout meal time, and he or she would give me the stink eye, or confront me saying, “Your parents are not your ‘yaar‘.”

It was one thing that I, like many different youngsters, had picked up in school. Again within the early 2000s, these phrases had been just about underlined and written off as ‘slang’, and in my Bangla-speaking family, it was merely not entertained. Even at present, I pause earlier than permitting my tongue to volley a ‘yaar‘ or an ‘abey‘, for worry of being chastised by my mom as soon as once more.

However the one factor that I, in hindsight, appear stunned by, is how shortly my little thoughts would pull a vanishing act, and wipe the vocabulary slate clear of such phrases within the presence of grown-ups, throughout household get-togethers, festivals, and so on. It was like an unstated rule. Though she would fear, my mom by no means needed to really face any form of embarrassment of getting to look at me ‘disrespect’ the mashis and the pishis by calling them my ‘yaar‘.

And Durga Puja, greater than anything, performed an enormous position in it. Although a competition, it was the rope that tethered me to my tradition and roots. It appeared virtually uncanny how an annual competition of 4 days helped me perceive extra about what it meant to be a Bengali and to ‘belong’ someplace and all over the place.

As I stare at Goddess Durga’s idol, a serene smile seems on her face. She appears to grasp my predicament. (Picture: Getty/Thinkstock)

For us north-Indians, who grew up in a combined tradition with a potpourri of languages (in my case, English in school, Hindi with pals, and Bangla at dwelling), the reverential Durga Puja was an event that allowed us to unabashedly put on our ‘Bong-ness’. Though a far-cry from the chaotic insanity of the traffic-choked lanes of the Kolkata pujas, it nonetheless was a hopeful frenzy of getting collectively and discovering a cause to have fun custom.

It was virtually as if within the swelling sea of ululation, I might dunk the ‘slang’ phrases. Within the inexperienced room whereby I might urgently change costumes — from a sari to a ghagra, to dhoti and a sari once more — earlier than a dance efficiency or the third act of a play, I might neglect the world for a only a bit, and deal with the adulation, the highlight and viewers appeasement.

Though the abdomen would growl, I would quick — taking decided steps in direction of the goddess via the gang of grown-ups twice my dimension throughout pushpanjali/aarti, holding extra flowers than my fists might comprise, and throwing them her means on cue.

The opposite perks, in fact, included attending to put on new garments, deciding on which one to put on when — Navami was invariably reserved for essentially the most gorgeous, encore outfit — stuffing myself with cutlet, rolls, ice-creams and pakoras, and simply feeling good about myself for a number of days.

I bear in mind some years again, throughout my post-grad days, once I had gotten into an argument with a batch-mate, who had challenged me saying Durga Puja “doesn’t happen” in his metropolis anymore.

“It happens in every Indian city,” I countered like a tradition gate-keeper, feeling mad {that a} non-Bong would suppose so little of us Bengalis. “We are like bacteria growing everywhere; you will find a Durga Puja even if it is just one family performing it in some remote corner of the world,” I barked.

With time, as I developed a readability of thought on the place I stand vis-à-vis faith and my reference to God, I realised Durga Puja was extra of a cultural thread than a spiritual one. It was the one funding of my time and vitality that I had made over time. I had hoped it could proceed, for posterity.

The pandemic got here as a impolite shock. Bengalis are so protecting of their tradition, it’s unfathomable that Durga Puja can ever be scaled-down. So assured we’re of celebrating the competition 12 months after 12 months and such robust is the bereavement of getting to look at Maa Durga ‘leave’ after 4 days, that we even have the adage, ‘Aashche bochhor aabar hobey‘ (come subsequent 12 months, we’ll have fun once more). It’s a self-comforting saying; one thing that makes us eager for a brand new 12 months, a new-but-customary celebration.

It makes me melancholic that we might by no means have the ability to scale-up the festivities ever once more. As I write this in 2021, the nostalgia hits onerous. I’m all of a sudden a powdered-face baby peering via the wings to evaluate the viewers’s temper earlier than my dance efficiency. I’m an adolescent with raging hormones sitting with a gaggle of pals and teasing and laughing onerous. I’m the kid lurking across the stage, feverishly colouring the sky blue within the artwork competitors, and I’m additionally desperately attempting to recall the final 4 traces of a Tagore poem earlier than the recitation competitors.

As I write this in 2021, I’m a indifferent lady in her late 20s, nervous if this 12 months’s celebration will turn out to be a super-spreader. I’m aggravated on the temerity of people that take away their masks. I ponder if the pandemic has killed my enthusiasm, I ponder if it has stolen the essence of my favorite competition and made me anxious — paranoid even.

However, as I stare at Goddess Durga’s idol, a serene smile seems on her face. She appears to grasp my predicament. She appears to be mouthing one thing… wait… she says, “Don’t worry, yaar. I –” The ululation sounds drown out the remainder of the sentence.

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