Bengalis have this incorrigible habit of romanticizing about Durga Puja in the first half of the year, i.e. from the months of January to August and in the second half of the year, i.e. post Puja, from the months of September to December. ruminating over how this time the Puja was not so great as it was last year and how it could have been more enjoyable had it lasted a few days longer. Odd the race is and its capacity to kill time with tireless debate over what was not and what could have been.
However, it is also the race which has the most extra-ordinary power of imagination, creativity, devotion, intellectualism and gluttony. There is not one Baangaali or Bong, as they are lovingly called, who doesn’t keep a bottle of Gelusil MPS Liquid handy in all seasons to combat the acidic belches or the favourite choonwaa dhekurs, as they are fondly called. These disruptive dhekurs are the biggest hurdles in a Bong’s peaceful existence as they leave that bitter coat on the taste buds preventing them from munching on a few more freshly fried maangsher shingaara (Mutton Samosas).
Talking of imagination, ask a Bengali and he will tell you a thousand clever ways of stalling work with crafty unionism. How the soil of Bengal is not at all suitable for any rail, metro, road or any other upcoming project which are otherwise running smoothly and successfully in other States of this country. How the ‘centaar’ is conspiring against the red/brown/black government of the State with a hidden agenda of wiping off the entire Bengali populace with one swipe of a Rightist’s/Leftist’s/or whichever arm that be it.
Technology is a subject they can chew on with relish like the Meetha Patti Paan they chew after every meal. How all technologies invariably fail due to the duality of thesis and anti-thesis inherent therein, is something only a Bong knows best. Futility of Maya, is the pivotal concept around which a Bengali’s life is thematically constructed. Therefore, not to do anything is the sovereign and sublime path to immortalization, is a stubborn belief that a Bong can swear by and die for.
The race’s devotion to lethargy and armchair intellectualism, at its pinnacle if the room is air-conditioned to the right degree, are enviable traits which none other race can compete with. However, when it comes to creativity, let me take a U-turn and proclaim that this is a race which stands tall and apart. Be it weaving, crafting, sculpting, cooking, writing, painting, designing, filming, singing, composing or just plain gossiping or adda, Bengalis have taken all art forms including elocution and conversation, to the ultimate level epitomizing human prodigy at its exemplary best. As one surfs from one Puja to the other in the Capital, the decoration of the idols and the pandaals manifest the unique conjugality of worship and creativeness, devotion and enjoyment, bonhomie and the sincere urge to attain greater heights of spiritual intent. Amidst the festive celebrations of the yearly Durga Puja, the true essence of Bengal and Bengalis come to surface and can best be evaluated. Some of the pictures that I sporadically clicked during various Pujas :