The Enchanted Deity – Maa Durga
Never before the ringing of the tower bell of nearby church had sensitized my emotions so dramatically. It was the perfect day to start with my perfectly synchronized morning chores but nevertheless the harmony did created magic for me. The sense of excitement and joy had pre-occupied my mind ever since it perceived the start of October month – the great Indian festive season; the time for celebration & jubilation with loads of extravaganza.
Being a Bengali, the mention of Durga Puja is just so enthralling and incites so many wonderful emotions at a time. These five days are the ones which we look & wait for every year round the clock. The Magical feeling is beyond explanation much like enchanted beats of Dhaak, the mystical fragrance of Dhuno (powdered incense), and appetizing aroma of freshly prepared Bhog: The typical layman description of Durga Puja.
The preparation for the festival starts a month prior to the occasion specially the erection of enormous Pandals at every significant square of the city. This becomes the wake-up call for people like us to plan our big shopping schedules for those five days of Extravaganza; even this adds to the charm of festivity. For me, it’s my first Puja outside India. Due to my constant communications with my family in India, I was aware of the dates and timings of the puja but somehow missing the fun and amusements that captivates one’s heart & soul being in your native Place. Nevertheless, I still got to see & feel the puja for a day on foreign soil, so “no complaints” at all.
In west-Bengal, it is the biggest celebration throughout the state and is a major juncture of socio-cultural gathering among Bengalis. In North India, this occasion is observed as Navratras. Initially I was skeptical about the Puja celebration in Netherlands as we heard that earlier people used to travel to Berlin to attend the same. But much to my relief thanks to Indian Bengali Association of Netherlands whose contributions & efforts finally lead the way for us to enjoy the puja in the country itself. Since my hubby is working onsite, getting a leave during project releases becomes a heck of a mission. Anyway, he managed a 1 day leave, so we decided to visit Voorschoten on Maha Ashtami – the most auspicious day of all.
Voorschoten – The venue where the Puja was held is a small city as compared to Amsterdam. It took 45 minutes of train journey for us to reach there. We along with one more couple friend arrived at the destination – a sort of community center. We didn’t expect a much flaunted & enormous arrangements but to my surprise, I was astonished to see such a splendid presentation with considerable effort & absolute precision. The Durga Pratima (Idol) was not so massive in size but the elegant statuesque sculpture was glorifying the whole place. In short, the aura of divine presence has touched my heart and I felt the same charisma again inspite of being so far from my country. Moreover the sanctity was accompanied by the mild fragrance of Shiuli (Night Jasmine), the bright streaks of Sindur (Vermilion) worn by women and blowing of Shankha (Conch Shell). The Dhunuchi Naach in the evening was absolutely spell bounding. All has added to the glory of Durga Puja.
The Puja committee has organized both the meals for the devotees. As we had to spend our whole day there, we had Bhog in Lunch and went out in the city for some strolling. We returned back again after three hours and had our dinner. Finally we were ready for the cultural program in the Puja Mandap. The Welcome Speech was given by Ms. Bhaswati Mukherjee – The Indian Ambassador to The Netherlands. The cultural stage-show was very refreshing & entertaining and most part was carried out in our native language ‘Bengali’. The best part was that we got reminded of our childhood memories when some of the very old hit bengali songs were played. It was truly an amazing experience when u get in touch and feel so close to your culture inspite of being far away from your homeland. After attending the Program for two hours we headed back to Amsterdam. The day has ultimately ended and my heart is absolutely content. My first experience of Durga Puja on foreign soil is definitely a huge Hit.
Finally a tribute to Deity Maa Durga….. the holy chant (in Sanskrit)….“Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Shakthirupen Samsthita Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha” “Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Buddhiroopen Samsthita Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha” “Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Shaanthiroopen Samsthita Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha”