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Written by Prerna Mittra | New Delhi |
October 13, 2021 10:50:02 am
Durga Puja, Durga Puja 2021, Durga Puja in the pandemic, pandemic Durga Puja, Durga Puja then and now, Durga Puja nostalgia, Durga Puja pre-pandemic, Durga Puja events, Durga Puja activities, Durga Puja cultural events, indian express newsIt's a melancholic feeling that we may never be able to scale-up the Durga Puja festivities ever again. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

I remember a time when, as a kid, I was going through the ‘abey-yaar‘, ‘sunn-na‘ phase, much to the chagrin of my parents, mostly my mother. Sometimes, it would just slip out of my mouth during dinner time, and she would give me the stink eye, or confront me saying, “Your parents are not your ‘yaar‘.”

It was something that I, like many other kids, had picked up at school. Back in the early 2000s, these words were pretty much underlined and written off as ‘slang’, and in my Bangla-speaking household, it was simply not entertained. Even today, I pause before allowing my tongue to volley a ‘yaar‘ or an ‘abey‘, for fear of being chastised by my mother once again.

But the one thing that I, in hindsight, seem surprised by, is how quickly my little mind would pull a vanishing act, and wipe the vocabulary slate clean of such phrases in the presence of grown-ups, during family get-togethers, festivals, etc. It was like an unspoken rule. Even though she would worry, my mother never had to actually face any kind of embarrassment of having to watch me ‘disrespect’ the mashis and the pishis by calling them my ‘yaar‘.

And Durga Puja, more than anything else, played a huge role in it. Though a festival, it was the rope that tethered me to my culture and roots. It seemed almost uncanny how an annual festival of four days helped me understand more about what it meant to be a Bengali and to ‘belong’ somewhere and everywhere.,casino in baga

Durga Puja, Durga Puja 2021, Durga Puja in the pandemic, pandemic Durga Puja, Durga Puja then and now, Durga Puja nostalgia, Durga Puja pre-pandemic, Durga Puja events, Durga Puja activities, Durga Puja cultural events, indian express news As I stare at Goddess Durga’s idol, a serene smile appears on her face. She seems to understand my predicament. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock) free slot playtech

It was almost as if in the swelling sea of ululation, I would dunk the ‘slang’ words. In the green room wherein I would urgently change costumes — from a sari to a ghagra, to dhoti and a sari again — before a dance performance or the third act of a play, I would forget the world for a just a bit, and focus on the adulation, the spotlight and audience appeasement.

Even though the stomach would growl, I would fast — taking determined steps towards the goddess through the crowd of grown-ups twice my size during pushpanjali/aarti, holding more flowers than my fists could contain, and throwing them her way on cue.

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I remember some years back, during my post-grad days, when I had gotten into an argument with a batch-mate, who had challenged me saying Durga Puja “doesn’t happen” in his city anymore.,free roulette game download

“It happens in every free slots 777n city,” I countered like a culture gate-keeper, feeling mad that a non-Bong would think so little of us Bengalis. “We are like bacteria growing everywhere; you will find a Durga Puja even if it is just one family performing it in some remote corner of the world,” I barked.,football online games 2 player

With time, as I developed a clarity of thought on where I stand vis-à-vis religion and my connection with God, I realised Durga Puja was more of a cultural thread than a religious one. It was the only investment of my time and energy that I had made over the years. I had hoped it would continue, for posterity.,for want of a better word po polsku

The pandemic came as a rude shock. Bengalis are so protective of their culture, it is unfathomable that Durga Puja can ever be scaled-down. So confident we are of celebrating the festival year after year and such strong is the bereavement of having to watch Maa Durga ‘leave’ after four days, that we even have the adage, ‘Aashche bochhor aabar hobey‘ (come next year, we will celebrate again). It is a self-comforting saying; something that makes us hopeful for a new year, a new-but-customary celebration.

It makes me melancholic that we may never be able to scale-up the festivities ever again. As I write this in 2021, the nostalgia hits hard. I am suddenly a powdered-face child peering through the wings to assess the audience’s mood before my dance performance. I am a teenager with raging hormones sitting with a group of friends and teasing and laughing hard. I am the child lurking around the stage, feverishly colouring the sky blue in the art competition, and I am also desperately trying to recall the last four lines of a Tagore poem before the recitation competition.,football games 16

As I write this in 2021, I am a detached woman in her late 20s, worried if this year’s celebration will become a super-spreader. I am annoyed at the temerity of people who remove their mask. I wonder if the pandemic has killed my enthusiasm, I wonder if it has stolen the essence of my favourite festival and made me anxious — paranoid even.,place bets

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