It's been more than a week since Visarjan and finally the fact has soaked in. For the culturally rich clan of Bengalis, the celebration of Durga Puja is not merely the time of carefree indulgence or the possibility of coming home late, it is much more - reconnecting with our roots and bonding with long forgotten friends and family. Being away from home for more than a decade, working on festive days somehow distanced me from that feeling of festive joy. It would pass like any other day. This visit to Calcutta was special due to my husband's presence. I wanted him to soak in the Bengali madness. How the 4 days went in the blink of an eye is still a mystery, what the mind absorbed was the immense satisfaction of looking at hoards of smiling faces who had come from far and wide to experience this hysteria (foreign tourists included). On the 10th day, after "boron" it was time for Her to take leave. This was my "first time" for quite a few things which included going to the parade before immersion. I was astounded by the grandeur of the parade - from bagpipes to chao dancers to drummers to sehnai players - none was excluded. At one point I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't hide my tears - I still don't remember what hit me, perhaps the infinite love Bengalis have for Ma Durga which entails them to make her return journey a remarkable one with unabashed pomp and glory. The motley of colours along with dhaki music added a smack of old Bengal charm which I have always found difficult to express in words but nevertheless will have profound impact on the audience. As the procession came to a halt, getting ready for the final journey, people flocked for the maddening dance that eventually faded as it was time. No later than the truck started, the skies displayed displeasure by triggering heavy downpour mourning her departure. Amidst the chaos, with smiling faces, heavy hearts and teary eyes, the Bong clan bid adieu to Ma, only to be reminded - "Asche Bochor Abar Hobe"!!
I have seen the Puja in Bangalore and Mumbai, so I can say this without a shadow of doubt "If you want to understand the Bong Way of Life you need to visit Calcutta during the Pujas - no other place comes even closer to resonating this feeling of Festivity and indulgent splendour at such a magnanimous scale" ❤️❤️❤️