…So on a more serious note, if Durga is make-belief, how has she been able to mesmerise one generation after another with the same old story and the same old imagery?
Even the most austere believer in mythology would know that Durga was created by the Gods as she appears. And what meets the eye is, in reality, impossible personified. Yet, Durga humbles technology and transcends knowledge. She is the root of creation, the cradle of feminism and an inspiration of art and architecture. She is often a poet’s muse and the subject of the mystic. She is the omnipresent and the eternal, the primal source of live and inner strength; she is for now and forever.
Every year, we look forward to the coming of Durga. She is greeted with feasting and revelry in every nook and cranny that can afford her short stay. Her home, albeit for only five days, is built anew each year. Whether in a makeshift fortress or a simple hovel, she is housed with equal dignity and delight. Durga lights up our hearts, homes, streets and city alike. The newness in our wardrobe is reflected in the scent of the shuili and the freshness of the kash. If her sparkle is in the morning dew, her mystery is in the evening mist. Drum beats of glory accompany her and she fills the air with an autumn aura.
Live or legend
Who would then argue whether Durga and her children are live or legend? It is after all the belief that matters the most. So when the pitch black khol colour outlines the eyes of the Goddess, our hearts skip a beat and not an inch within us is devoid of veneration. She becomes the ultimate reality that we pursue and the supreme being we seek blessings from. Our salutations are in their purest form with esha sh chandana, gandha, puspa, billo and patranjali. And as the smoke billows up from the dhunuchi, we hope harder that our prayer is carried higher and higher with it, till it finally makes it to the heavens above.
Could there be a more playful way to refresh innocence and faith? Leaving books at the feet of the Goddess makes a student more scholarly they say, wearing new clothes makes us pure, and through anjali we confirm our allegiance. Every petal and prayer, every verse and ritual holds the utmost significance that is far removed from the argument of a non-believer. Those who dismiss Maa Durga as merely a clay idol and her puja as child’s play may have their calculation and reasoning to fall back on. But the skeptics disappear in the crowd of worshipers.
Going back to where we started from, if we consider ourselves to be the most advanced stage of human evolution, then who would have thought even a hundred years ago that the Internet would one day pervade our lives? The Internet literally does for us what we had to physically do just a few years ago. The way the invisible waves of information and services are connected all over the world is nothing short of a charisma to those who believe in them even though they cannot actually see them flow. The Internet is there, and how!
Is it this faith in the virtual that makes Durga the mystique as real on a computer screen as she is in a pandal? Perhaps so. In a conservative society like ours, it needed a dominating mother figure like Durga to fuse the fiction with the fact, the tradition with the modern and the constant with the change. She is perpetually transmitting signals through electromagnetic spectrums that touch our mind and soul, thus keeping our faith in positivity intact. And it isn’t just for the five chosen days of the almanac. Maa Durga is online and available round the clock, seven days a week, twelve months a year. A worshiper can sign in for communication at any time and who knows, there might soon be the day when the divine mother will be heard or even seen.
Wishful thinking? Of course. Anything is possible though technology and perseverance it is said although the connection between the Devi and the Internet is good enough in itself. Travel, retail, research, updates and needless to mention VIP passes are prerequisites during Durga puja. Thanks to Maa Durga, resources to each of these are now only a click away. The Internet has not only made life easier, it has also made worship effortless. There’s an app, like a genie in a box, for almost anything we need. Shop, hop, greet, meet, treat online, that’s the trend. In transit, at work, up and down the stairs, between cooking and laying the table, at the groceries or the fish market… there’s a whole world of options available, waiting eagerly for that one invaluable click of yours. If sweating it out at the over-stocked bazaar has its own charm, swanky e-commerce has its appeal too. It’s as if we’re celebrating puja on the go!
If the truth in the virtual reality of Maa Durga has been established by now, the tears we shed at her going away on Bijoya Dashami should be self-explanatory. We clamour like a child for her to return the next year, and so she obliges as if to say there’s nothing absolutely real or totally unreal. Whether cyber or physical, we are all born in the same space and when our work is done, it is in the same void that we vanish.
Behind every sristi, sthiti and binasayang, Maa Durga is the shakti. She is as real as she is online. Goes without saying, every technological innovation has succeeded with her blessings. And if she kindly approves of, soon there may even be an app will exclusively take care of Maa Durga’s travel, her little wardrobe desires, her children’s shopping needs and her pet care too! If only there was an app to make our prayers comes true…