If you happen to have generic Indian face, your life becomes a comedy itself. Comedy because you are often mistaken as someone who has no connection to your regional identity or better your language group. Like I’m mostly mistaken as someone hailing from Uttar Pradesh or Delhi, and after coming down to Bangalore I’m often mistaken as Malayali (which I happen to cherish). But once people get clarified about my home town which happens to be Kolkata, I’m often welcomed with broken godforsaken weird Bengali words thrown together, numerous mention of mishit doi and roshogolla (next time anybody does this, I swear I will break his/her head) and invariably one question “Are you going home for Durga Puja???” Now if you are cave man/woman who just woke up from thousand years of coma or simply has no idea about Durga Puja, it’s a four day-long celebration that only takes place in West Bengal (No there is no east Bengal) in all its proper glory. Now to explain the magnitude of this, all you have to do is take a handful of Rio Festival, some gallons of sweat and rain, over enthusiasm of the resident and non-resident Bengalis and mix that well in a grinder and lay that down on some tons of garbage, and a magic mixture of joyous glow in everyone’s eyes.
If you have read till now, in all possibility you are thinking that I’m anti-celebration. And you my friend are partly right because I see no point of the over expenditure of these four days. All the expenses put together can easily feed all the needy people for one good year at the minimum. But on the flipside, I have no right to deny that these four days bring a certain amount of happiness on everyone’s face; that little kid who eagerly waits for one long year to get new clothes or the low salaried factory worker who saves little every month so that he can buy something for his/her family. I see bunch of happy people flying back home to spend some time with all the people together, these are the little joys nobody can deny.
Why don’t I go home during puja? because it’s too crowded and I have certain amount of ignorance towards all the religious bullshit (If a 15 year old is thrown out of a makeshift temple because of a death in his family, he might grow up to ignore that very system, with a promise that he is never going to enter in a temple).
But I often ask myself, above all these things, what does Durga puja mean to me? Do I miss it somewhere deep down, which I’m afraid to admit? The answer is a loud and clear “NO”. And yes a no means no, like it should be for women. I don’t fall into the feminist category, but I see women being grinded in all possible ways by the society. For example, today Indian Supreme Court said that if a woman forces a man to live separately from his parents, he can very well divorce her. Did we forget that it’s us men who in the very first place forces women out of their parent place? So yes we are far away from equality. If a woman frequently goes to her parents’ place it’s considered a bad thing to do. If a woman gets cat called, it’s still that woman’s fault. If a woman gets raped it’s her fault, she should have dressed properly, should have been soft spoken, because come on! Those are like rape repelling mantras that a woman should follow. And lately I feel like had I been a woman, I would have been outcasted from society and earned (yes! E A R N E D) a tag of bitch. So when I see people going gaga over Durga puja and still treating women with same old mentality I feel amused. Because for me Durga puja is the celebration of womanhood, women who are fiercely independent, self-reliant, who walk down the street with intimidating grace, who are responsible for their own action and does not give a fuck about being a woman in a patriarch society, because they earn their very own place. So I might not have seen Durga in my life with all those fictitious 10 hands, but I have seen living embodiment of that very goddess, and it’s a salutation to them, even if the society denies it.