The aroma of ‘Dhupas’ have filled the pandal. The locality’s kids are dancing enthusiastically on the beats of Dhaakis.
Riya was silent for a long time. She was scrolling through her Instagram feed, busy admiring the trendy pictures of her followers.
Why her InstaLikes have decreased was all her concern amidst the festivities. All this was a huge noise to Riya at that moment.
Riya’s Grandpa, sitting across from her, was looking at her ardently. He could not believe his eyes that a young girl like Riya can be so detached from the joyous occasion.
Then he asked her – Riya, what makes you stare blankly at your mobile screen? Come, sit next to me.
Riya: Yes, just give me five minutes, Dadu. I am chatting with Ashna. She is pandal hopping. See how gorgeous Maa Durga’s idol looks?
Grandpa: Yes, beautiful picture but it is just a picture. Look around, you are also sitting in front of a beautiful ‘Ma-er Protima(idol)’ and you haven’t even had a proper look at it.Riya realized her Dadu was not pleased with Instagram. She put her phone in the bag and dragged her chair closer to Dadu.
Riya: Dadu, will you please tell me just who is Maa Durga and who are the others? It looks like a battlefield isn’t it?
Grandpa: Oh my dear! I am very happy that you have a quest to know all this. Everyone enjoys Durga Puja but most of them don’t know anything about the myth. I will tell you everything if you have the patience to listen to it without your phone.
Riya: The phone is safe in the bag. Not coming out till I know everything about Durga Maa and her children. Now please tell me, I am eager to know.Grandpa: Ok. Then listen dear. Look at the center. Maa Durga is standing on a lion and holding deadly weapons in each of her ten hands killing ‘Mahisashura’. On her left, first is ‘Maa Saraswati’ worshipped as goddess of knowledge and music and then God Kartika, Chief of army of Devatas (Gods). On the right first is Maa Laxmi – goddess of wealth and then God Ganesha God of success.
Riya: Thank you Dadu. Now I understand the meaning of all these idols. Is there anything else I should learn about Durga Puja.
Grandpa: Yes Darling! There are lots of things you will be interested to know. For now I will be telling you another myth regarding this Puja.
Riya: Yes dadu, please carry on. I am very keen to know all these.
Grandpa: We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of ‘Shakti’ (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives. But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance the Bengalis embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. We welcome Durga to the earth as our daughter who comes at her parents’ home for her annual visits. Durga stays for four days-Shasti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami along with her children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Kartik and Saraswati and sets for her husband’s abode on Vijaya Dashami. The worship of Devi Durga in the month of October however owes its origin to Krittibas Ojha’s “Ramayana”. Sree Rama hastily worships Durga, the goddess of ‘Shakti’, just before he sets for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana. According to the Puranas, King Suratha used to worship goddess Durga in spring. Thus Durga Puja was also known as Basanti Puja. But Rama postpones the Puja and worships the Devi in autumn and that is why it is known as ‘Akal Bodhon’ or untimely worship. Over the years, this Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among Bengalis (Bangalis) and in Bengal.
Riya: Wow Dadu! Today I learnt so much about Durga Puja. I will never forget this enlightening conversation of ours.Dadu: My pleasure, Ri Buri! Now why don’t you take a selfie and upload it on Instagram?Dadu winked mischievously.
Riya: Daduuu…! I know what you are doing here! No, let’s enjoy this moment to the fullest. I don’t want to miss out the Dhunuchi Naach.Dadu smiled. He was elated to see his Ri Buri dancing gleefully with Dhunuchi.
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