After receiving the boon of immortality, Mahisasura with his sheer force, drives the Gods out
of heaven. Only one woman can destroy him. Maa Durga arrives on Mahalaya, bringing not
only the demise of all evil but an air of joy (Khushir Haowa) to all Bengalis. Preparations
begin months before, the artisans sculpting bold but beautiful idols, workers setting up
pandals showcasing exquisite art and talent. Dhakis, street hawkers, malls, eateries --
everyone in Kolkata gets busier. The air of joy permeates everyone’s lives. Splurging on
shopping, lavish dinners, pandal hopping, late-night addas with friends and family -- the joys
Durga Puja to me has always been pandal-hopping holding Dadu’s hand, sitting in a
rickshaw with Joy Dada or zooming around in our car with my parents. The entire city seems
to change around me. The sound of traffic is overlaid by dhak, kashor-ghonta, ulur-dhwani,
conch shells and the shlokas of Birendra Krishna Bhadra. The smell of petrol and smoke is
diminished by the aroma of flowers, dhunuchi, sandalwood, and scrumptious bhog. The
nights are illuminated by thousands of colorful lights. These are some of the best days of my
life as I’m never denied anything I ask for. I name it and my Didun presents it before me like
a fairy godmother. Plus, the pocket-money from every relative I meet makes me a rich man
during the pujas!
This year, I’m hundreds of miles away from my loved ones. Although I’m upset, I’m equally
eager to see whether I’ll have the same warmth, happiness, and fun at the Durga Pujo by
Hoichoi. The organizers are warm-heartedly welcoming all the expats for active participation.
I’m even more enthused for my first ever participation in a cultural program of a community
puja. May the 'Khushir Haowa'; bless us all!