Sunday, September 27, 2009

THE WRATH OF THE GODDESS

As a child, my most cherished and enduring Durga Pujo memory is of the face of the Goddess.

Oh, I liked wearing new dresses and rushing to the parar pandal (neighbourhood marquee where the festive celebration was organized). I liked the happy, excited crowds, and the Hindi songs blaring from the microphones, and the smell of dhoop (incense) and flowers, and the dhaak er bajna (drumbeats), and the finery of the ten-handed goddess and her brood of four children, and the sonorous Sanskrit mantras (hyms) and the busy evenings of pandal-hopping.

But most of all, I liked to sit quietly inside the pandal at Jagruti Sangha (our local neighbourhood Pujo) and gaze at the lovely, angry face of the Goddess. Because at Jagruti Sangha, the sculptor (I forget his name) would always create an idol whose eyes shone with divine wrath. Baba (my father) used to say that this was the face of the Goddess just before she killed the demon Mahishasura – that climax of fury which led to the triumph of good over evil.

All the other Durga idols I have seen (in my childhood and even now, so many many years later) depict a calm and serene Goddess. Baba would say that that is the face of Durga after she has destroyed Mahisasura – “calm of mind, all passion spent”.

And although I love to look at the calm and beautiful face of Durga almost as much, during every Pujo I feel a deep yearning for our childhood Jagruti Sangha Durga – that trinayani (three-eyed) face compellingly majestic with its blazing eyes and gaze of furious power. That terrible, mighty beauty absolutely fascinated me, and I would gaze for hours, imprinting that face on my memory-album (we did not have a camera) so that long after Bijoya Dashami and the immersion of the idol, that face would be stamped deep in my soul in all its anger and loveliness.

I just have to close my eyes to see that face of my childhood Maa Durga again. Although the contours have become elusive, the eyes are as burningly beautiful as ever.

DO SHARE A FESTIVAL MEMORY WITH US.

13 comments:

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Yesterday I visited Shivaji Park, Dadar And had Darshan.

Santanu Sinha Chaudhuri said...

Each one of us has a different way of looking at things. It was interesting to read what you liked most in the idol.

I always thought why the four children of the goddess just preened while their mother fought the demon! Should they not extended a helping hand? OK, I know, no one would want the Mahishashura to be lynched, and a one-to-one is always respectable. But shouldn't the kids' faces betray some anxiety?

seana said...

I don't exactly have a childhood festival memory, though I think with some effort I could translate something into a festival 'feeling'.

Oddly enough though, I've just posted an Indian derived word on my Confessions of Ignorance blog my first, I think, and it does in fact relate to a festival. I'd be curious if anyone here had the time to drop by. If you'd like to comment, it is perfectly fine to tell me where I got it all wrong. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Durga, huh? I guess we're all going to have to incorporate the angry goddess into our thinking of you, Sucharita, as difficult as that is...

Kavi said...

I guess a metamorphosis of sorts happens !!

And i can almost instantaneously identify with you. Who seeks out a vantage point, sits and stares into the Ma's face !

I do that ! Every now and then !

Mustaf said...

Sucharitadi,

Subho Vijaya er Preeti and Subheccha nio:)

Nazish Rahman said...

Hey Happy Durga Puja...hope u r enjoying it!!

manju said...

Nice explanation your father gave- that the 'wrathful' face of the Goddess was her face just before she killed Mahishasura!

Gayathri said...

Nice explanation..but havent witnessed such grandiose till date!!

sukku said...

Sorry for the belated Durga Pooja wishes...I hope you had fun...

Mina Jade said...

It sounds so interesting. I love to learn about Goddesses and cultures, and would be eager to witness one.

Aleta said...

Hmmm, I think the closest I can get to a story about festival type memory is Mardi Gras. As young children we would wear costumes. It could be anything you wanted and often times I'd dress in a pink princess outfit. My family isn't big into crowds, so we didn't stay long to watch the parades. But what we would do is go to the parking lots where the floats were stationed prior to moving on to the street for the parade. Dad was great! He could cheer for the parade goers to through us trinkets. We would fill up our bags and then go to the car and dump all of the beads on the floor of the car. Dad said, "It's better for the parade people to see you with empty bags, then they will throw more to you!" We would sometimes fill up the bags three or four times before the parade even started and then leave. That's how we did Mardi Gras and were able to stay out of the crowds.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, everybody, for sharing those memories.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks, everybody, for sharing those memories.