Celebration of Colours
Finally autumn is here. Though late and still intimidated by occasional rain, a fall out from the late
This is the day of Bisharjan when the effigy of Durga would be immersed in a nearby water body. Photo: Zahedul I Khan
monsoon, yet the signs are there. Autumn for me has a special significance. The season is deeply intertwined with my life since I was a young boy.
Autumn meant going to the village home with parents. It meant all kinds of Pithas in profusion. Autumn meant walking miles through the paddy fields now bereft of the rice and lying idly in the sun with golden hay in its bosom. It meant spending the glorious moments in twilight in the company of doves, herons, storks and pigeons. It meant the joy of getting lost in the mist that pervaded the fields, the ponds and the village dwellings. Autumn meant bounty.
My attachment to autumn is still very strong. The end of monsoon and the advent of autumn still bring unspeakable pleasure. The deep blue sky with the fleeting clouds, the dhak-dhak, drim-drim of the resounding dhak ushering in Durga Puja, the <>kaash phool<> bouncing in the wind, now changing its direction from south to the north, the atmosphere of glee-- all these invoke a series of images that I carry in my heart since my childhood.
The Pujas of Khulna , Kushtia and Dhaka of my childhood are deeply embedded in my heart. The festive confluence of people from all walks of life, and belonging to various religions flocked together at the Mandaps. At Ganderia the Puja at the residence of the Head Master of the Ganderia High school, popularly known as Head Sir-er puja, was extraordinary to say the least. We used to eagerly wait for this occasion. Our rounds of visits to Puja Mandaps used to begin from the day of maha shashthi or the sixth day of the festival. Goddess Durga would live between this day and day nine in her father's abode and on the tenth day she would return to her husband's home. This is the day of Bisharjan when the effigy of Durga would be immersed in a nearby water body. When Bisharjan used to happen in the river Buriganga during our childhood many young children of my age jumped into the river together with Durga. How I wished I did the same but for the watchful eyes of my elder brother. He was naturally worried about my well-being, lest the strong current of the Buriganga drowned me. The departure of Durga pained me a lot. As I grew up and became busy with professional chores, there was little time to be so intensely involved with the Durga Puja. But I made it a point to visit one or the other Puja Mandaps; Mirzapur for instance, or the main Puja at the Dhakeswari temple. In the mid-nineties I was in Karachi once in autumn where I was attracted by the Dhaker badi. There was actually a Durga Puja happening at the Sindh colony.
I literally walked down the memory lane in 2007 during the Durga Puja. I drove down to Ganderia, left my car at the East End club by the famous Dhupkhola maidan and started to walk. Unfortunately all the old Pujas at Ganderia ceased to exist now but the ones in Farashganj and the surrounding areas are still there. I walked through the lanes and by-lanes of old Dhaka and visited almost all the Mandaps. By the time I returned to my car it was past midnight. I was drenched with sweat, but exhilarated by the experience.
Together we carry the spirit of Sharodutshob, the celebration of the arrival of autumn, in our hearts and renew our pledge to uphold the spirit of non-communalism that Bangalis of all hues have revered from time immemorial. Photo: SK Enamul Haque
I returned home a happy man that night. These days, come Durga Puja, I go out to far-flung places to seek and piece together a slice of happiness. I go to my native village, the multitude of other villages or small towns and celebrate festivities. Durga puja for me, and I am sure for many is not a religious festival. It is the festival of the season of bounty. My parents were profoundly religious but that did not deter them from participating whole-heartedly in the festival. From last year the dhak, dhak--drim, drim has come within my ear shot. The fluffy white clouds travelling through the blue skies in the great season of gaiety has literally travelled down to my doorstep. Durga Puja happens right here in Banani. I am drawn to it just as I used to be drawn in my childhood towards the mandaps of old Dhaka. I see some known faces, some not so known and yet others who are complete strangers. We greet each other; we smile at each other. A bond of fraternity is created. Together we carry the spirit of Sharodutshob, the celebration of the arrival of autumn, in our hearts and renew our pledge to uphold the spirit of non-communalism that Bangalis of all hues have revered from time immemorial. I cannot but thank the organisers of the Puja here and look forward to the season of Dhaker Badi next year.
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