It’s the much awaited Durga Puja (worship) time once again! When I was an 8-9 year old child, this time of the year always filled me with joy and happiness. It was the beginning of the festive season which continued for more than a month. I used to run to the Kali Temple near my house everyday where the idols of Durga and other deities were made. And it gave me immense pleasure to see the gradual development in the process of giving shape to the clay into mesmerising idols.
The idols were open for public worship from the eighth day of the Puja. And curtains were drawn in front of them from the first day till the seventh so that no body from outside could see the idols, as per the tradition. I still remember how I used to look through the gaps in the curtains to get a glimpse of the idols being coloured, and decorated with various accessories (artificial hair, clothes, crown, jewellery etc.).
I still remember how I waited for the seventh day of the Puja from when the schools were closed. I used to get up early on that day so that I could eat the prashad (offering made to Durga) of sweet yellow rice. And after that I used to wait for the evening when the Puja before raising the curtains from the idols started. That night used to be the one which used to be difficult to pass as I waited impatiently for the morning so that I could have a look at the idols in the pandals (tents in which the idols are kept). The memories of the loudspeakers buzzing with devotional songs and enchanting, filling my heart with thrill have not faded till day. (Though today I don’t like the loud noise of loudspeakers no matter what is being played but those were the days when I waited for those loudspeakers to speak.)
And after getting up on the eighth day, the only thing I wanted to do was to eat the bhog (prashad) of Mahaashtami Puja and rush to all the nearby pandals to have a look at the idols. And then the next three days used to be the time when I went to all the pandals (my home town being a small one, so there were not many, only 8 or 9 in fact) again and again with friends.
Vijayadashmi used to be the day when I felt a little sad thinking of the end of Puja. It used to be a difficult task for me to get back to the regular routine of classes, school and homework. Never to mention that I missed the fun of the Puja days like anything.
When I remember all these things today, I think of being a child again who waited for the Puja days from a month. But I know that it’s not possible being more than a thousand kilometres away from home. But the only thing which gives me satisfaction is the fact that I am going home on Saturday to enjoy those lovely three days of the year.
Happy Durga Puja!!