The week has been busy. For some reason the body disobeys the mind, and seeks rest and time for itself. The mind has been jumping. From one perch to another like a primate in the middle of day ! In the middle of all hectic activity, recollections of the Durga Puja Pandal at Powai dominate.
You had all the ingredients. Bright lights ( i am told, brought all the way from Chandapur), a majestic Godess Durga in all splendour, numerous commercial establishments selling anything and everything from Mahindra Scorpios to Godrej washing machines to sarees to fruit juices to lottery tickets !!
To cap it all, there is the annexure auditorium where ‘cultural events’ take place ! This to me, seems to be the heart of the whole Pandal engine. Many a night, i am told there were different cultural programs that happened here. On one evening, Alka Yagnik performed. I know because i was present ! ( Atleast a couple of other famous people performed. I am a neophyte in the entertainment space. So)
My wife stood in the queue ( of one hour plus ) to have Bhog! The food was quite something, i am told . And oh, the immersion procession, was quite a sight ! Spontaneous dancing and having clean fun and exhibiting pride in being Bengali came to the forefront, not radically, but more socially !
Amidst big bindis, elaborately hand worked kurtas, intense discussions ( on something or the other), song and dance the spirit of ‘Bong’dom returned with fervour. This impalpable yet omnipresent spirit seemed to be the essence of Durga Puja ! To a southerner like me, it appeared that the Pandal was as important as the Durga there. Perhaps more. As though the Goddess herself was a ruse for the community to bond and get together !
Alka Yagnik sang song after song in Hindi. And when she moved to sing in Bengali, it was the kids dancing right next to the stage who had a problem with it. We sat there and watched, as the parents requested songs in Bengali and the kids kept asking for Hindi movie songs ! Do i construe it to be a ‘nothing-serious-mainstream-requests’ or is there an ominous sign of a storm, taking root in young minds ! I would tend to lean toward the latter.
For, it is a strange yet powerful spirit that gets woven into the Bengali mind more than the cotton sarees and flamboyant kurtas. And language is intricate & critical thread, that weaves the culture and produce that inescapable egalitarian spirit of the Bengali ! To see the ‘future’, restive about that thread, leaves the prospect of strong fabric in the future, that much more weaker !!
For our collective future, such threads and bonds must grow ! And when they grow soaked up in heritage and culture, the mind pushes its boundaries to accommodate others too. After all, Puja is best spelt with an ‘o’ ! But you know what, the puja this time makes us want more. We look forward to the Powai Puja of 2009 ! Err..sorry. Pujo..we mean !!