Thursday 18 October 2018

Durga Puja 2018 in Guwahati

As a little kid, arrival of Durga Puja meant days filled with joy; A visit to your aunts meant money for toffee or gifts; Autumn break at school for almost a week or more, and not to forget, shopping for clothes. But shopping in those days did not mean buying just any clothes, apart from being one or two sizes up, so that those remain wearable till next festive season; it should be full sleeve and probably of warm fabric. Those were the Durga Pujas of late 90s or early 2000s because Durga Pujas then also meant the arrival of shivering winters. Every part of the body except for the face would be covered in warm clothes in an attempt to beat the cold. A ride in a rikshaw from one 'pandal' used to make teeth shatter with cold breeze. But things have changed now.

It is 2018, and wearing warm clothes during Durga Puja in many places of India, might mean a potential heat stroke. Shopping for clothes now mostly mean cotton clothes with sleeves as short as they can be. Even going out in the comfort of air conditioner of a car means spending hours on the road in bumper to bumper traffic and less in a 'puja pandal'. With almost hundred or more pandals in Guwahati, decorated in the best ways possible in various themes, requires a fast means of transport to be able to witness as many pandals as possible. And there was my motorcycle, Suzuki Gixxer waiting for me like always to accompany me to any destination. But being a maniac for safety while riding a motorcycle, I had to wear my riding gears so that, I could reach my destination safely and did not have to take a detour to the emergency ward of a hospital. So, there I was, ready to visit 'puja-mandaps', with all my riding gears on.
Unlike the old days, this time the ride did not mean teeth shattering cold but, smoldering heat. Winter is as far as it can be be, thanks to global warming.
Also, the sun did not show any mercy by shining as bright as it could above the head. Yes, I went out during the day time because there was a plan to visit our aunt's place later in the evening. It turned out that, it was not only the climate that has changed in about two decades, because tea, sweets, and 'puri-bhaji' were all that were served to us (minus the money). Sigh! 

Back on the road, since people here are not accustomed to seeing a motorcyclist in riding gears usually, there was not a single person that did not look at this "mad-man" on a bike, wearing a jacket, and gloves on a bright summer day. Octobers can now probably be considered as summers, I guess. But at least, with my iridium blue mirrored visor of my Steelbird helmet on, they could not see my facial expression of liking all the attention. Then there was this dense traffic. The distances that we once traveled on rikshaws, took thirty minutes or more even on a motorcycle. But that is 2018 for you. Every red light meant more sweating and filled the mind with a strong desire to go back home. But the well ventilation of the Scoyco Jacket and the Steelbird Air helmet let the air in and cool me down the moment we were riding again. Moreover, it was Durga Puja and anyhow I had to get to at least one mandap to get the blessings from the goddess Durga. With multiple "no-parking" and "no-entry" signs being instated to ensure "efficient" flow of the traffic, I somehow managed to park the bike right near the road, went to a 'mandap' to get the blessings but, the focus was less on the prayers and more on the bike. I came back in few minutes and it was a relief to find my bike right where I parked and not being towed for causing any kind of obstruction. 

Without hurting anyone's religious sentiment it would be safe to add that "the path that leads to the God is hard" and with the increasing global warming and traffic jam it is only going be tougher with every Durga Puja. There is a lot we can do to prevent this but, then again, we can do a very little about it. I could have gone to the small temple that was less than a kilometer away from my home. I could have walked till there for the 'puja' and prayed in peace. Instead I chose to visit almost every pandal to witness the decoration, and complain about heat and traffic jam of which I was a part of. This ladies and gentleman is 2018. How many 'mandaps' can you visit on Durga Puja in 2040?

Location: Guwahati, Assam, India

1 comment:

  1. মা দূর্গা তোমার এবং তোমার পরিবারের মঙ্গল করুন
    এবারের পুজো হয়ে উঠুক তোমার জীবনের শ্রেষ্ঠ দূর্গাপুজো
    দূর্গাপুজোর অনেক অনেক শুভেচ্ছা
    দূর্গা পূজার শুভেচ্ছা বার্তা