Durga Puja Amidst the Global Pandemic
Eight months ago, no one ever thought that mankind would face a situation where the entire world will go on a war against an invisible enemy. The outbreak of a deadly pandemic and we had to give up on our festivals like Bihu and Ganesh Chaturthi, even when everyone's at home with their families.
And now when Durga Puja is in such close quarters, people over here, especially Assam and West Bengal had a lot more expectations from it. But unfortunately this year it won't be the same.
Apart from the crowd till midnight, we'd miss the colourful lightings, the themed pandals, the beautiful idols and most importantly pandal-hopping with friends and family in the evening.
We'd miss the feeling of euphoria and vibe of this entire festive season, but there are some underprivileged people of the society whose livelihood depends on this big festival.
The sculptors who start preparing idols for upcoming festivals amidst the ongoing one, the artisans and workers who shape their perspective and creativity into themed pandals, the roadside food stall owners who migrate from different places just to earn a little money within this Puja, the street vendors who sell happiness to kids in the form of balloons and toys, the Dhakis (Traditional Drummers) who remain unemployed the entire year and just wait for this festival of joy to arrive.
And let's not forget the homeless beggars who need not sleep on empty stomach as they manage to eat from the public food distribution and offerings made to the Goddess.
Every year we wait for the 4 days to come so that we can reunite with our family, friends and loved ones, to spend some quality time. And maybe it's a game of destiny that we're in a similar situation for the past eight months but there's no festival around. Basically, we all are reunited and yet stranded apart.
The countdown for Durga Puja begins from Mahalaya or Pitri Paksha every year. From renovating homes and decorating to buying new clothes, footwear, accessories and self-grooming; we all start preparing to live the four days, i.e., Saptami to Dashami to its fullest. But this year it won't be the same, as many lost their jobs amidst this ongoing pandemic and nationwide lockdown and rest lack for the reasons to do shopping, renovation and decorations, as this Puja won't have the similar vibe and enjoyment this year.
Planning get-togethers with school and college friends during the days of Puja changed from "Oi aji keitat ulabi?, Kot adda dibi?, Gaari ula beleg jega'r puja saiahu!" to "Oi eibar ulabi ne?”
Last year on Vijayadashami, we all bid adieu to Maa with grief in our hearts and tears in our eyes saying, "Come again next year." Though this cycle continues every year, no one ever thought that her arrival wouldn't be the same like before, this year.
There is a proverb in Bengali which is said during the idol immersion, "Ashche Bocchor, abar hobe!" which means, “Next year Maadurga will come again with same joy and happiness and the celebrations will take place once again.” But who thought that due to a man-eating bat overseas, "Ashchebocchor, abarhobe!" would change into "Eibocchor, aarhobena!" i.e this year it won't happen anymore?
But someday this shall pass too, so let's be optimistic and pray Maa Durga to take away all these negativity from around the world so that we can celebrate all our festivals - Bihu, Ganesh Chaturthi, Ambubachi and her arrival (Durga Puja) with double joy, happiness and excitement in the upcoming year. Together let's say "Ashche Bochhor Abarhobe!" or "Ohabosor, akou hobo!"
Wishing everyone a very happy Durga Puja and Sharadiya Utsav in advance!
(The author is currently pursuing BBA from NERIM Group of Institutions. The views expressed in the article are his own.)
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- Durga Puja 2020
- Global Pandemic
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- Assam Durga Puja