Poet Satyendranath Dutt describes autumn in the last line of the poem — “Butidar jaripar shamsari ange, elokeshe elohese sharat e bangge.” Autumn in Vancouver means ‘fall season’ – a little different. At this time Mother Sharadiya, meaning Sri Durga, spread Abir from tree to tree. Dressed in a red, yellow, green saree, Shardia Maa, sometimes by shopping, sometimes by car, comes to visit her father’s house in Vancouver every year. For three nights in some mandap, four nights in some mandap, the family has to keep the mother by her feet and perform puja. He is eager for war. We are not less – we spend a few days with great joy by taking care of all the busy family mothers at our house today, three days later at the neighboring house, then in this neighborhood, in another neighborhood, and even taking care of their own pets.
Durga Puja has started in Vancouver since long. Lower Mainland Cultural Society forty-five years today, Anita Roy Chowdhury sixteen years of celebrating Tithibar at her home in Maple Ridge, Utsav Bengali Society has been celebrating Shardia Mar Puja for fifteen years. A new society called Bangmilanti has vowed to worship Mother from this year.
During Durga Puja endless flowers are collected from durbo, aparajita flowers, yellow tree, kachukach, paddy tree, banana tree, local home gardens and even lotuses from the local lake. Sahasra Dhara spring water, sea water, soil from both banks of rivers, sea salt water, mineral water, are collected from local sources. After that we proceed to Devarchan with Arghya Rachi Gandhapushpa.
A small statue of Tagore was brought from Kolkata after a few years. Small, medium, large, even individual idols are worshipped. These three or four days are full of joy. Outside the mandap of some puja, families gather at sari stalls, art-crafts kiosks. However, the puja mandap of Vancouver is buzzing with the noise of the sarees worn by the mothers and sisters in the puja temple, more hilsa being caught in the Padma than the Ganges, when the war will stop, who is coming to the next election. In the midst of that movement, who would say, “Oh, won’t be Anjali again?” Hello Hello is being heard on the loud speakers of Mandap Cultural Program — Senior First. Lines up for Bhog Prasad. Donations are being collected at the gate. This is how the day’s worship ended.
It will be again in the evening, tomorrow will be Kumari Puja, everyone will come to watch Sandhi Puja Aarti in the evening. The next day, Mahanavami, Homa Yajna. Dasami puja is like depression. Who will take and get hands on the offering of Dadhikaramba. Mom will leave today. Goodbye to Ambika today. The mind is empty, the house is empty.
In the midst of this, the banging of the dhaka started, the kalrob of the youth group, the loud voice of a group “Durga Mikey Jai, Kaalb Bar Abar Hobe” – a promise of assurance.