Wednesday, October 04, 2006


The splash of water on my face and body brought home the realisation that another Puja was over. I was jolted awake to see the clay idol of the goddess gradually disintegrating itself in the silt-laden water of the eternal river of faith, the goddess of name and form dissolving herself into the absolute, accompanied by human chants of Durga Maa-i ki jai.

In spite of the humdrum and the commotion around me, I couldn’t help notice a starker contrast with the band-party, bursting crackers and street dance that set the mood half an hour ago when we were taking the idol in a procession through our para lanes. The mood was still festive; the sombreness of the impending departure of our celestial celebrity hadn’t struck us quite. What a sight it was to see children craning their necks from third floor balconies or entire families of Mukherjees or Agarwals coming out in their porticos to watch the grand finale of the five-day annual event and even join in. Or when these guys were heaving the huge idols from the mandap onto the trucks. Or when, earlier in the day, ladies were smearing the goddess and each other with loads of vermillion. But at this moment, they were history.

The end seems to come all too soon and abrupt, leaving one no time to prepare oneself to go back to normal life. For a moment, all eyes are moist and all vision is blurred and that is not because you have water splashed all over your face. Ironically, right amidst this pang of separation we celebrate the victory of good over evil. I used to think this was just to cover up our sorrow and sport a smile with Shubho Bijoya on our lips and provide us with another excuse to gorge on sweets, but I realised it goes deeper than that. It just goes on to teach us that victories of good require a lot of sacrifice, and the booty is not always very apparent. The goddess never leaves us, only her idol does.

The idol was dissolving to form the same particles of clay and silt from which it was originally created. There were gentle ripples on the water hitting the stairs of the ghat and wetting my feet; and their crests were brightly illuminated, more by the megawatt floodlights in the ghat than by the waxing moon in the sky. But the river was going on, oblivious to these minor human perturbations, as it has been forever, giving birth to and nurturing human civilisation on its banks for aeons. It seemed, at least for the present moment, to be the embodiment of the eternal and the absolute, for which all material cycles are just transient ripples.

In the fifteen minute journey back home, this thought struck me out of the blue. You go to the Ganges to immerse the idol and you come back with a piece of eternity. That is what makes your Bijoya really Shubho.

1 comment:

Reshma said...

wow... such an immaculate expression fills the heart with i dunno wat, but i really feel the feeling in it and i remember the Jagjit Singh song 'kahin door jab din dhal jaaye..' in the context of Ma Durga..
hats off to u Turboda :) cant wait for more such posts..