It is the annual visit of Ma Durga and her divine children to our world. It marks her victory against the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. This festival serves as an ode to the classic triumph of good over evil in a surreal explosion of vibrant colours and lights.
For the next 10 days, devotees will throng to their temples in search of peace, prayer, and togetherness.
We are all aware of all the happenings in and around the temples across the city, but rarely do we see the community based celebrations that would occur in some neighbourhoods where the Hindu majority is high. Anyone who's been to India during Durga puja will know the vibrancy, enthusiasm, and intensity with
which this occasion is celebrated. While of course expecting that kind of celebration here is difficult, it certainly isn't impossible. A stroll near the temple in the Dhaka University area before Durga puja begins will give you a glimpse of the sculptors putting final touches on their statues of their beloved deities. Families at home place fresh garlands in front of their gods, with the aroma of incense bathing the homes. Members of the house buy fresh new clothes with vibrant colours and send tasty sweets to their fellows and neighbours.
Amidst this unpredictable weather, hundreds of pandals will be erected all over Dhaka. These pandals are created in open spaces. From open fields to narrow alleyways, they are designed to transform the landscape into a mesh of colour and energy.
Residents of Gulshan and Banani get a good idea of these festivities as the Banani Sharbajanin Durga Puja Pandal becomes a hub of celebrations in that neighbourhood, where people from all religions go to be part of it. People living near Bailey Road, Mouchak, and Siddeswari also get a front row seat to the celebrations as the Siddeswari Kali Mandir also goes through the prayers and celebrations of Durga puja. Slightly more Hindu populated areas such as parts of Old Dhaka go one step further and decorate some of the streets with bright lights and eye-catchingly vibrant decorations as well as the sound of Dhak that fills the air.
When the ten days are up, Durga puja wraps up with a ceremony called “Bishorjon”, symbolising the return of Maa Durga and her divine children from where they came by immersing her statue in a large body of water like rivers, ponds etc. This conclusion is marked by visits to family and offering sweets to visitors. From start to finish, Durga Puja, the festival of the celebration of the win of good over evil, brings about a visceral energy that affects people from all religions or walk of life and it is all evident throughout the city.
By Intisab Shahriyar
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed