Photography and other experiences.

Posts tagged “Durga puja

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The Outsider

One of most difficult questions I’ve been asked is ‘Where are you from?’. I’m  from nowhere. Never had a chance to crawl in a particular soil for too long. My tentacles couldn’t absorb  nutrients of a culture. I don’t recollect a festival being ‘celebrated’ at home. Diwali was for crackers and holi was fun with classmates.  I got married to a Bengali  and  discovered Durga Puja.

Durga Puja at GK 2

‘If you look into her eyes for a while, she’ll descend into you’

I’ll not go in the details of the rituals ,for the simple reason, I know nothing about them. Whatever I’ve learnt, is from my wife and the internet. There is a lot of information, stories, history available online. My journey is as an ‘Outsider’, whose involvement is perhaps as intense as  Camu’s Meursault;  a little perplexed, drifty and continuously astonished .

During the Puja our household transforms.  A distinct feminine air pervades. This time of the year  is when I help install safety pins on my wife’s sari pallu. She converts from a working woman to a dazzling lady. A  rustle of Dhakais, Jamdanis and Balucharis  bring a crispy  joy. Later at the pandal one sees more. Brocades, jacquards and georgettes beam in beautiful colours .

Durgotsav 2012

Our’s is the Greater Kailash 2 Durga puja. It is on the periphery of a dense affair which happens at the core of  C.R. Park. Despite being on the outskirts, it is well attended, thanks to the tireless work of   our Puja committee members.

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At the end of the day, it is the fervour  and a belief in the supremacy of a mysterious power which makes this festival so special. It is a celebration of existence and its radiance.

Durga Puja at GK 2

People throng and reach out to the  divine, not in fear but as its children.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Durga Puja at GK 2

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One intriguing  ritual is when the Goddess is given some privacy while she’s having her food. I was not allowed to take pictures of the event, but sneaked some when they were drawing the curtains.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Durga Puja at GK 2

Perhaps every entity ( including you and I) is moulded of earth. So is the Goddess.

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Then fashioned by the Gods,  she cascades as a bright plasma of colour and sparkles, riding  her lion, towering to slay the evil which tries to change from one form to another.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Our triumph is in  celebration of  the Mother  and we do it with panache.

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Samrat is our star performer. His very being is soaked in the nectar of Durga Puja.  The priests in his presence are  acolytes as he leads the way with his devotion. My son is already participating and giving him company.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Prithvi is five. His electrons spin in the direction of  Puja. He waits for the event eagerly and cannot miss any moment of it. We have to take regular excursions to where a lot of idols are made, well before the Puja begins.

Durga Puja at GK 2

This is how the festival makes him levitate. I am happy there is a culture which flows inside him, something which I have missed in my life.

At the heart of Durga Puja is the Dhunochi dance. A lovely  display of sound and steps  in a hazed out atmosphere. I found it very challenging to photograph. Smoke, light and silhouettes have created ample drama to surprise me every time I have taken pictures of the event.

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Durga Puja at GK 2

And how can Prithvi be left behind?

Durga Puja at GK 2

Some more pictures of the Dhunochi.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Durga Puja at GK 2

At the end there are two very intriguing rituals.  Its the ‘Shidur Khela’ and ‘Kumari Puja’. I cannot elaborate on either significance or meaning of the two, but both are a delight to photograph.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Durgotsav 2012

Durgotsav 2012In Shidur Khela women smear vermillion on each other. For Kumari Puja a young girl is worshipped.

Durga Puja at GK 2

Durga Puja at GK 2

After these two rituals,  prayers and festivities are wrapped up and the Goddess is taken to a river and consigned to its water. From what I understand, it is a symbolic reunion of the Goddess with lord Shiva.

Prithvi

Despite being an outsider, I have found this event heart rending. One day  we have to let go which is dear.

Prithvi

But even the sombre  turns into a carnival and mundane appears absurd at the Visarjan. The fervour is mind numbing. This is India.

Prithvi

I missed it last year. This time I was shocked to see cranes pressed into service. It might be convenient, but for a photographer, it was disastrous.

Durga Puja at GK 2

If this is how we continue to strap mother nature , then one day she will rise in her splendour to wipe us  out.

Prithvi

And all our shows of reverence will be futile.

My comment is not on the Puja celebration and its ecological impact, but our general attitude towards nature.

I thank and congratulate those who have kept this tradition alive.  I am happy my son is a part of it.

Durga Puja at GK 2

And as usual, I’ll be blinking from the other side, happy as an outsider.

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