Bishorjon or immersion – time to say goodbye to Goddess Durga and her family.
Time to say goodbye to all the excitement and holidays that kept us enthralled for the last few days.
Goddess Durga leaves early in the day every year – there is a hurry since morning to 'see her off' on time lest she is late for her take off to Kailash.
Seeing Uma off
Puja begins early morning and the Goddess and her family are offered a frugal meal as there is very little time to prepare an elaborate one. The mantras that are chanted have a somber, soulful strain to it – partings are never easy.
Doi-khoi or Dodhi mongol is offered or it could be sheetal pantha (rice soaked in water) with punti machh (tiny tasty fish). As the offering suggests, it is traditional in nature and has a rustic earthy feel to it. Boron Dala or the tray that holds all the items that are used to bid goodbye are 108 in all.
With chanting of shlokas or mantra the symbolic immersion process is complete. A mirror strategically placed so that it reflects the image of the Goddess is immersed in a brass vessel. Therein heralds the end of Durga Puja. Women believe those who soak their hands in the water of the immersion vessel become good cooks so there is tough competition to be the first.
Evening is the time when the idols are taken for immersion. But before that a warm 'send off' is arranged. Face of each idol is wiped with betel leaves, and sandesh is 'fed' to the idols. Last but not the least paan is put into the hands of each of the idols to signify a 'happy ending'.
The Bengali women folk adorning saris worn in the traditional way offer vermilion at the feet of the Goddess and say a quiet prayer, asking for long life and good health for their families. After that is over, women indulge in sindoor khela - a very popular tradition in which they smear each other with red vermilion, wishing long life for their husbands and peace and prosperity for their families. This tradition has been captured in many films and photographs.
Well into the evening, the idols are lifted onto trucks and lorries and the procession begins to wind its way towards the river. For Kolkata dwellers most of the idols are taken to the Hooghly for immersion. The trucks are packed with people and the uninterrupted beats of the dhaak keep the revellers energised. Youth often break into a breezy bishorjon dance that is a very popular dance form these days.
People selling balloons, indigenous whistles, caps make quick business as do the chai and ice cream wallahs. The administration has quite a task – over-seeing the entire immersion process. People have to get more conscious as to not pollute the river excessively. Many good Samaritans and organizations collaborate to keep the rivers pollution free.
At the immersion ghat by the river the idols are immersed with chants such as “Bolo Bolo Durga ma ki… Jai” and “Ma tumi… abaar esho”. In all the chanting, shouting and dancing, one emotion that peeps through strongly is a tug at the heart strings - the sorrow of having to say goodbye, knowing that the wait for the next Puja would be one long year.
Everyone leaves with one prayer or request to Goddess Durga - “ashche bochhor abaar esho Maa” (Oh Goddess, do come again next year).
It may be the end of Durga Puja this year, but there are sweets waiting for one to get home. That, however, will have to wait till after bishorjon!
Every year I feel sad on this day. It's the end of grandest of festivities for this year.
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