Pujo, or Durga Puja, for me, meant a long break from school, I still remember how the collection of money (chanda) would start usually months before the Durga Puja, where I come from, in Bihar, which is adjacent to Nepal’s Tarai region, a place called Pachpakri. I remember I used to go to see Durga puja rituals all the seven days of the pujo. This used to be a festive moment, one meant to be enjoyed, for me and all my siblings. This was the village market, but now, of course in 2019, this has been developed and has helped the commerce and transaction for areas even 30 kilometers at the periphery.
To go see the Durga puja pandals, we would be brimming with anticipation and curiosity since morning, and we would stop reading or writing, which used to be our only work at that time. I would always try to find a way to escape from studying. Usually, we would reach the market in the afternoon, around 2:30 pm, looking forward to the mela (carnival) and the big Durga pandal in the middle of the market, with bright lights and shining colors. One of our duties was to meet with Gopal chacha (uncle), my Abba’s (father) classmate and best friend. We would end our visits with delicious sweets at Kedar chacha’s eatery, which was one of my favorite places to eat sweets. I have been missing my place in Durga puja celebrations for quite some time, as I have been away from my native place.
I don’t know if I will have the guts to visit those Puja pandals in the ‘new’ India anymore, where anyone can be lynched based on suspicion alone, and because hatred for others is being propagated day and night.