Friday, October 23, 2015

Durga Puja in the Windy City!!

Xubha Bijoyadoxomi folks! For the last few days, various parts of India have been celebrating the festival of Dusshera or DurgaPuja. I am from Assam and there we call it "Durga Puja"! This Indian festival spans the first 10 days, but celebrated primarily from 6th to the 10th day of the bright lunar fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, It's an annual affair where we celebrate the power of GOOD over evil. This religious festival marks the victory of Hindu Goddess Durga over the evil and terrifying Buffalo demon Mahishasura! Apart from the religious significance it's an occasion to celebrate life with family and friends, adorning self with new clothes and indulging in lot of sweet and savory delicious eats! Every year different puja committees attempt to create the most unique idols to present the story of Durga and Mahishasura fight! It's a 3-day holiday back home and even with the busy work-week I have been having here it’s almost impossible to miss the excitement and state of happiness that grips the entire state during these festivities! It has made me very nostalgic! The chaos, infinite number of people hopping from pandal to pandal in their beautiful new dresses, sounds of bangles, toy guns, kids playing with whistles, and of course unbelievable traffic congestion! The sound of dhol and dhak, the warm cozy agarbati fragrances, the Diya lightings and red sindur bindis...I miss! I miss the chaos and I miss those hundreds of people! I miss assisting mom in the kitchen, I miss how she always buys a few big balloons while pandal hopping and then carries them home ...I miss getting dressed up with my sister, I miss my father's smile when he tries the new kurta we forcefully gifted him and refuses to admit that he actually really really likes it!!
It's not Durga Puja untill you have hazzy yellowish click in front of the mandap :-)
Last two year I have been visiting India on vacation around this time and it was incredible! Naturally I have been extremely nostalgic :-) But the best way to fight it is to try to make the most of what you have! So, I got together with the very few friends I have in Chicago and planned to attend a Puja being organized in a nearby city. In the hopes of being able to return home early I reached work by 6 am this morning! Me and my friend were overly excited to wear our ethnic dresses as we don’t get enough occasions to wear them! She wore a beautiful beautiful Assam Silk Mekhela Sador in Maroon and Beige! And I sported a Cotton and wool mixed Mekhela Sador in vibrant purple hand woven by my incredibly talented mom! I was delighted to see same type of God and Goddess idols in the Puja that I would see in home. The atmosphere was not as chaotic and noisy as I am used to but it was really nice. It was peaceful and homely! The food served after the Aarti which is known as "bhog" was incredible. But of course, we were still hungry so when we got back, both of us quickly whipped up a few items for a simple yet scrumptious dinner! Here you can see Assamese style Ghuguni and Fula Luci, that we made, and the Jalepis that were brought from store! Jalepi is a quintessential Durga Puja celebration sweet! You gotta have jalepis! Overall, the day went mighty fine :-) I am not an overly religious person, but the happiness and celebratory mode this festivity brings about is what matters the most!!

Puja in Santa Clara (pc: Awesome friends) :-)
Puja in Santa Clara (pc: Awesome friends) :-)

Happy Puja folks! Hope you enjoyed and I wish everyone of you a prosperous and fun filled year ahead!!!

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