And the Festive Season is Here Again!

Whenever October comes I could not stop myself saying this phrase “And the festive season is here again.” It’s not only me, every Indian gets the same feeling around this time of the year.

Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.

David Binder

October month is also known as the Autumn season in the Northern Hemisphere and the Spring season in Southern Hemisphere. There are many other things apart from the weather that you can enjoy this month. As an Indian, I can say that October is a very exuberant time in India. With the ease of monsoon season in most places and festival season is in full swing, this month brings many childhood memories of events like Navratri, Ramlila, Dussehra, and Diwali for us. And for me, after marriage, there is one more addition to this list - Durga Puja. I can not stop myself to share my perspective and experience of this festival. I am already excited that this year we are going to experience puja in England!

Durga Puja has great significance in Bengali culture. Although Bengalis perform traditional pujas at home, Durga Pooja is a community thing for them. They eagerly wait for these 4-5 days of puja every year. It is not just puja for them, it’s the maddening beats of Dhak reverberating in the pandal, gossiping with friends commenting on their clothes and jewellery, youngsters clicking selfies, roaming around for the whole night, pandal hopping, eating yummy food and whatnot. Every locality or para starts their planning in advance in the form of meeting, planning, money collection and all.

Being married in a Bengali family I can tell - as I already mentioned - for Bengalis, Durga Pooja is an emotion, an excuse for getting new clothes, shiuli flower, yummy food in the pandal, watching idol of Maa Durga in different para’s pandal, Sidur Khela, bishorjan and so on and my family is no exception. Childhood memories leave imprints on your soul. Those good old days are unforgettable. And I have heard many stories of Durga Puja from my in-laws and husband. And these memories and stories suddenly emerge during this time of year. I grew up in a typical North Indian family, but still, I can feel their excitement for puja every year. I want my kids to make such memories of puja so they can also cherish them later in their life.

But if you are not in India or West Bengal, do not assume that you may not be able to witness the craziness of this festival. No matter where we choose to live, our cultural values will remain with us. They form the foundation of our life. And this is so true with Bengali culture. They celebrate Durga Puja with the best of their capability outside India as well. You will always find an old Bengali community organizing Puja whether you are in the US or UK. People living abroad may not be able to celebrate puja with the same grandeur as people in India but they still get the same feeling of festivity around this time by doing their best to celebrate. It is definitely not as grand as Kolkata puja, where you can see the gorgeously decorated and heavily crowded pandals, eat the most delicious and incredible variety of Bengali cuisine and brightly lit up streets.

I have never been to Kolkata for puja but heard a lot about it from our relatives. I can imagine that no city in India can match the charm and joy of Kolkata puja.

In short, for an average Bengali Durga Puja is love, emotion, working together and meeting with their loved ones. For them, Durga Puja is a year-long wait and one week to rejoice.

Festivals are fun for kids, fun for parents and offer a welcome break from the stresses of the nuclear family. The sheer quantities of people make life easier: loads of adults for the adults to talk to and loads of kids for the kids to play with.

Tom Hodgkinson

So this year in this festive season let’s forget our sorrows and celebrate life.

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