DURGA PUJA 2015- A PERSONAL JOURNEY By Shubhashis Mitra

Durga Puja in Bengal is an epic, each time one turns the pages all over, new realizations, images, memories emerge. Just like other epics those inferences are then conveniently boxed to our psyche or sub conscious to be kept dormant there, for the rest of the year, till Devi Durga decides to visit the land of Bhagirathi in next autumn. It is difficult to assess the essential ‘Truth’ behind Devi Durga emerging each year with tremendous vigour for the Bengalis. Maybe all this is just an attempt to revisit our psyche or to delve deep into our subconscious and bask in the glorious world of fantasy for a few days.
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Aided by imaginations and a riot of colours and ofcourse tremendous ability to innovate, with substantial investment, Durga Puja is a spectacle each year. Albeit the popular scornful attitude by other Indians towards the Bengali Babu class intellect, declaring that Durga Puja is the only viable industry at Bengal now; Bengal at least once in a year manages to give a damn to those other intellectuals of higher echelons, whatever that may mean! This makes the realization more poignant, is Durga Puja a ‘Truth’ or just a fanciful thought? A complicated poser indeed!

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Well, if you ask me, I was more interested at the inviting prospect of being served delicious food at any religious celebration right from my childhood, rather than the celebration itself! If one goes about Pandal hopping at any town or in surrounding villages one can easily enjoy the breakfast along the way, and a lovely lunch if one can strike a rapport with people around. Ofcourse the coke and potato chips culture does not gel well in such occasions.

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This year, I tried to search for some defining photographs to locate the spirit of Durga Puja. But I was severely plagued first by a viral fever, and then by an emergency family compulsion at Kolkata. But even then, capturing the full gamut of Durga Puja is definitely imposible for any photographic commentator. There is always much more to Durga Puja, than it can be ever apparent.
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The relic of the Jamindari at Kalikapur, a village nearby river Ajay at Burdwan district was stunning. The whole roof collapsed which was once a grand court room.

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But Durga Puja was never the less on, among severe gnawing scratches of time. Hardly anyone was there, the huge courtroom devoid of roofs and almost empty, stared at me with a perpetual bewilderment. I did not really know whether to rejoice the situation or to get bogged down by the overwhelming flow of time. Well, at times one mortal life appears to be too flimsy and irrelevant. Now, again a fleeting thought passed my mind, who is truer- flow of time, Durga Puja or me with a camera? What these photographs mean actually, statement of truth or just a narration of fragility of time? Is time fragile? Well, more thoughts to ponder on!

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Two lovely terracotta temples dedicated to Shiva adorn the entrance of the ruined courtroom of Kalikapur Jamindari of the Roys. This makes the setting and the experience more intricate.
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From the terracotta villages to colonial Kolkata through my early morning hotel window was quite a transformation indeed. The day started in a flurry to end up exhausted.

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This Durga in saffron intrigued me at Kolkata, one of the very few pandals I just managed to have a glimpse. All the characters, including Saraswati and Laxmi in saffron created an amazing effect. Actually anything ‘saffron’ now is a matter of interest, both for saffronized and non-saffronized intellectuals of India; hence this particular Durga & family appeared very interesting to me. After all, ‘Secularism’, ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Saffron’ never meant much as far as real governance is concerned, all these are at best useful slogans to shout in suitable occasions; yet it is interesting to observe so many pan India intellectuals being quite absorbed in all these!
All these intellects are rubbish honey- all that matters is money. Well, can this be the defining ‘truth’ of Durga Puja 2015 for me? Well, nothing wrong with this one really!

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I think I can now refer back to Rabindranath Tagore. For Tagore it remained a must to observe the Sun rising each and every morning. Each morning he absorbed the sunrays, got rejuvenated, and each day ‘truth’ dawned to him afresh. The fresh energy that he gleaned each day, made him near restless in energy, and he radiated back for ourselves to cherish. So ‘truth’ essentially dawns everyday, it is upto us to cognize.
Essential science also tells us that the ‘Sun’ is the source of all vitality in planet Earth and that Nature is essentially our pristine home. It is nice to feel that we have grown up in a scientific environment in Santiniketan.
And yes, among all this Durga puja buzz, I spent one morning at the butterfly zone, which along with the festive mood is brimming with activities.
Thanks,
Shubhashis

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