As I hear the Chandi Path by Birendra Krishna Bhadra, my mind starts to wander in the by lanes of Rourkela, where I used to spend my vacation roaming from pandal to pandal. I watched in astonishment as the skilled sculptures bought Maa to life from clay. How painstakingly they built the basic structure and slowly transformed them into divine and majestic idols.

I never played with my friends during the puja vacations, but I was always in the pandals chatting with the sculptors and workers who constructed the beautiful pandals. As the final lag of Puja days arrived, my excitement always tripled. I remember one such incident, wherein all the idols (DurgaChala) was completed except Chokkudaan. One of the oldest and most interesting phenomenon is theChokkhudaan or the offering the eye of Goddess Durga. Generally, it takes around 3 to 4 months to make a DurgaChala but it’s not complete until this final ritual. This ritual is supposed to done in complete darkness and in the presence of only one sculptor and no one else. I had befriended one of the sculptors and he had invited me to see how the idol was completed. I smuggled myself out of the house quietly (according to elders watching Chokkudaancan have dangerous consequences). I tiptoed to the pandal and watched to amazement as the sculptor in final stroke of paint made the eyes of Maa. It was as if the idol had come to life and atmosphere suddenly became completely divine and I was completely overwhelmed.

The poignant ritual of Pran Pratishta – Kola Bou Bath, Pushpanjali of Asthami, energetic and ever graceful Dhunuchi Nach, colourful and vibrant Sindoor Khela. The pomp and grandeur of the pandals never attracted me, but it were these traditional and sublime customs of Puja, the dhoop filled pandals, the aarati, the anjali, the mesmerisingshankha, the overwhelming images of Ma Durga, the colourful lights and music and yes, the delicious bhog, all of it used to hold me captive as a child. Years later when I revisit those days, I feel lost and dejected as I am not able to share the same excitement and emotions with my kids in these big but lonely cities

Now with this wonderful initiative of Durga puja by Varthur Bengali Association, I will be able to relive some of my memories and share them with my kids, who have been robbed of this opportunity. Looking forward for welcoming Maa with same childhood innocence and festive fervour.

Ma “ashche”

Yesterday, I saw you in my dream You eyes shone, such beauty in that gleam Was it 365 days or a year?

The cries of “ashche bochor abar hobe” rang clear.

Your arms seemed outstretched, Your companions seemed decked, The lion was roaring, Our hopes went soaring !

Expectant….We took baby steps Talking to private and government reps. The canvas started to fill, Like water entering a parched fishes gill.

Thanks & Regards,

Mr. Srinath Vasudeva

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