Childhood and Durga Puja, Some memories
First of all I’m an atheist. But then I’m a Bengali too. The blood runs through my veins and no matter how westernized I am, deep down inside, my roots scream my identity that I’m a Bengali. No matter what I react to Bengali tradition and rituals there’s always a hidden pride and a belongingness that I don’t seem to understand. To me most of the rituals are stupid and lack sense and I kind of react in a hostile manner but then again I get confused because an unknown part of me accepts the fact that I’m a Bengali at the end of the day.
Let’s take the example of the Durga puja. It is the most widely celebrated festival among the Hindus. But the Bengalis do it in a way which none can match up to. It is celebrated all over West Bengal in an epic style. Preparations begin 6 months before the actual puja dates. The people wait frantically and the excitement heightens with each passing day and boom! It actually comes and merrymaking follows with everyone getting together and having fun. Friends, families go out and visit various pandals and the idols. Even the organizers compete with each other to be the best in terms of lavishness, lightings, decorations, pandals designs and themes. One can’t express the grand occasion in mere words unless you see it for yourself.
The point in saying all these is that I don’t really support or like all of this. I mean there’s no point in spending crores just for a puja. If it is about the faith and devotion then it should come from the heart. Spending huge sums of money to show glamorous idols and pandals isn’t about faith and devotion. So what I think is people plan all of this not for devotion or faith but it is a full fledged business. People cash in at the expense of everybody’s sentiment.
But here lies the catch. The above mentioned thoughts come across my mind, probably what my logical and rational brain thinks but my heart? Well, it says a different story. I don’t feel ashamed to confess that even I wait for the puja to come. Although I don’t show my excitement and it is not of the same proportion as others but it is there. Somehow I look forward to it and I feel happy about it. To be honest I don’t perform pujas nor do I believe in any such gods or goddesses. To me it is just another idol made of clay or stone or whatever. God is a concept and having faith in it doesn’t require performing pujas or building temples. You just have to be an honest and moral person to worship that idea or concept of God. So I don’t even to go inside pandals and I don’t celebrate with that divine feeling like others do.
But I feel proud when someone other than a Bengali excitedly talks to me about the pujas or wants to know the details. Then I feel what others do, I enthusiastically explain and I boast and brag about it. Probably because I grew up in that culture and there was a time when I was a kid I used to visit pandals and I used to perform pujas. I used to go out with friends with the same divine feeling hoping that I would be blessed by the Durga. Gradually I grew up and I got wiser. I became practical and started questioning everything and finally I became an atheist. But whenever the Durga puja comes knocking, a part of me always becomes that kid I once was, and the other part holds it back.