Durga Pujo marks the beginning of the autumnal festive season in Bengal.
It is the time for celebration and togetherness.
It is the time to rejoice and seek the blessings of the divine deity, Maa Durga.
Even for those of us who aren't high on religion and rituals of the Hindu calendar, this time of the year is synonymous with family reunions, and get-together with friends & loved ones.
It is the time to deck up in best clothes and go pandal-hopping especially in and around Kolkata.
It is the time for revelries of the other kind too - like feasting on good food, feasting on the literary treats that are released in form of the annual supplements of magazines & periodicals, feasting on the movies in Bangla (or other languages), and feasting on the music albums released by all the major audio labels,
The festive revelry typically includes even the spinning of real-life love stories,
egged on by the wisp of freshness in the air,
especially during the four days of Durga Pujo.
I can never think of being someplace else during this time.
Only twice in my life I have had to miss out on the celebrations in my favorite city, Kolkata, and, needless to say that I missed my city and its typical sights & sounds a lot.
From Mahalaya to Bijaya Dashami, to Lakshmi Pujo, KaliPujo/Diwali and BhaaiPhonta,
it is a series of festivities. It is much more than the pomp & show, or the Brahminical rituals; for most of us Kolkatans in means basking in the blend of tradition & modernity, of savoring the delectable mix of religious, neo-religious & non-religious sentiments.
It is a time to be nostalgic as well - as if the season itself conspires to evoke nostalgia in us all.
For me, things that I do during the festive days have changed, or rather evolved with time. I hate the excesses. I abhor the noise pollution. I detest the recklessness exhibited by the maddening crowd in the evenings.
I still wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, during the Pujas.
I wouldn't want to catch the unmistakable autumnal hues, the serene morning air, and the vibrant spirit that is the hallmark of the Pujas in Kolkata.