It's that time of the year when Bongs feel over enthusiastic.
It's that time of the year when dear old Maa Durga decides to spend 10 days in her parental abode with her kids in tow. 10 days of glorious no cooking,cleaning, making lunch boxes and time away from hubby Shiva! :-) And honestly her homecoming is welcomed with great gusto by all the bongs and non-bongs! It's the Puja time!
I am a bengali as my name implies. I have seen Durga Puja for most of my childhood in Kolkata. The light, the sound, the new clothes, the food stalls, the pandals, the idols, the crowd-pushing, the walking for long hours in the night, the meeting up with friends, sitting in a restraunt and eating 'coz mommy wants a break too - have all been an integral part of my life. When I reached BITS, I realized what I missed.
We had a puja in BITS too (wherever there are bongs there will be a puja!) It was a good one, but obviously I missed the Kolkata and its festivity.
Then I reached America. No relatives, no cars and hardly any bengali contacts - there was no puja for me in my first year. No new clothes, no lights no festivity. I realized the true worth of a home and yes Durga Puja in my life.
This year I had almost given up hope of seeing one either. However destiny had it otherwise. I saw Pasadena Puja. 2 hours in 2 different Metro buses, moving through unsafe downtown LA, I reached Pasadena. Walking for 15 minutes I saw a Cathedral. However the people milling around were by no means Christians. Bright colors, sarees, kurta punjaabi, bengali words filled the cathedral. The idol was in the big hall where usually choirs are held. Goddess Durga was at home even in US!
As I gave my osthomi onjoli, I forgot that the surrounding and people were all unkown to me. I forgot that I wasn't in Kolkata. It felt like home again. 4 hours of journey and 30 minutes of walking was worth it!
But there were other things I realized. The children spoke in accented bengali, the mothers explained the history of Goddess Durga in english, everyone except me came as a family, there were no drumbeats(dhaker awaj), and the pundit was just another person who had managed to download the sanskrit verses from the net.
But I enjoyed! I loved being in front of the watchful eyes Goddess Durga again. She seemed to tell me, "wow! so now you have international experience!"