Ah, the colorful pandals, the piercing beat of drums, the mesmerizing aroma of incense, and the alluring glow of Goddess Durga under the vivid lights. Yes, my dear friends, I’m talking about Durga Puja, the most vibrant and reverberating Indian festival that brings along a wave of strong nostalgia, reminiscent of past adventures and experiences.
Nostalgic Prelude to the Festival
You know how the anticipation is half the fun of anything? Well, Durga Puja is no exception! This festival introduces itself with whispers of excitement weeks, even months, beforehand. And the nostalgia train starts chugging along.
Think of the exhilaration in every little nook and corner of the city, with people hustling to give the final touches to massive clay idols of Durga, shopping for new clothes, and practicing for cultural performances. This period of preparation does not just signify the onset of the festival, but also a mingling of past and present experiences making us relive those golden days. It’s as though time turns on its heels, and we’re back in our childhood, wide-eyed and brimming with anticipation.
The Arrival of Goddess Durga
The idol of Goddess Durga arriving at the pandals is a sight to behold. Nostalgia sweeps through the crowd like a gust of wind as the idol arrives, as if everyone is reminded of the joy that this festival has brought them over the years. Year after year, the Goddess’ arrival brings back memories of enchanting tales of good triumphing over evil we heard and reveled in as children.
Memories in Every Pandal
Much like scent triggers memories, there’s something about stepping into the pandal that reminds us of old times, don’t you agree? The meandering paths leading to the grandly decorated structures, the music, and the community spirit they house – the pandals are storybooks, narrating tales of years gone by.
Ask any Bengali out there, ‘Pandal hopping’ is an unmissable ritual. These visits, often in the company of family and friends, renew connections and rekindle past celebrations. As we hop from one pandal to the next, we relive those same moments from previous years and it’s a joy in itself, isn’t it?
I still remember my carefree days when I and my friends would steal the finest sarees from our mom’s wardrobe and pile up 5 at a time in a rickshaw with the mission of seeing every pandal in the locality. When we got thirsty we bought one Thumps Up to share as we couldn’t afford more.
The Music and Dance
Traditional music and dance performances during Durga Puja are the soul of the festival. They provide a sense of continuity by bridging the gap between the past and the present. Each rhythm, each dance form brings back a flood of memories of our parents and grandparents, narrating stories of old customs and traditions carried out during these performances.
Sindur Khela was one ritual we longed to play but this custom which bids farewell to Maa Durga is the domain of only the married women. So the first year after marriage, I played with vermilion to my heart’s content.
A Taste of the Past
There’s no denying that food forms an essential part of Durga Puja. The well-known ‘bhog’ or the simple yet delicious food offered as prasad holds such a dear place in our hearts triggering memories of shared meals and merriment of past years.
The Bhog experience
The bhog distribution is an emotion in itself – those long queues to receive the divine prasad, the first taste of khichdi or the sweet payesh, it instantly takes you on a journey down memory lane. Not to forget, there are those street food stalls promising samosas, puchkas, and jalebis, these taste explosiotransporting us back to the mischief and camaraderie of childhood.
Faith and Tying Bonds
At the end of the day, I believe it’s the faith and the sense of community that attaches a feeling of nostalgia to Durga Puja. It is this nostalgia that makes Durga Puja more than just a festival.
The Tying of Bonds
The shared worship, the chatter amongst community members, the shared duties and responsibilities – Durga Puja strengthens bonds. We find ourselves back within the warmth of community love that we might have distanced from in the bustle of everyday life. The festival brings us back, back to our roots, back to our past.
The Emotional Perfect Circle
Isn’t it fascinating how the farewell of the Goddess marks a new cycle in our lives? As she is immersed in the river during the ‘Visarjan’, we reminisce the year that was, and the years that have passed. It all just comes together, the emotional perfect circle, only to start anew, rebooted for the next year.
The nostalgia during Durga Puja is as infectious as its revelry. The shifts and changes of our life transitions may distance us from our roots, but this beautiful festival always brings us back, wrapping us in the warm and familiar blanket of those golden olden days!