In October, Bengalis celebrate Durga, the goddess of Shakti, in a five day long festival. We worship her as our mother and as our daughter. She is our daughter, married, with four children, living in marital bliss with her husband, Shiva. Once a year, she leaves her marital home to come stay with her parents, that is us. This homecoming is what millions of Bengalis look forward to all year. We light up the streets and clean our homes, buy new clothes and prepare to welcome her.
On the fifth day, which is today this year, we say goodbye to her with tears in our eyes. We offer her all her favorite foods and give her new clothes and jewelry. We ask her to come again next year, because without her our home feels empty and joyless. After she leaves, we hug each other, give gifts to the little ones and touch the feet of our elders and ask for their blessing to commemorate Durga’s stay with us.
We wish everyone a “shubho bijoya”, so that the year ahead is full of light and all that is good. It is said that the Gods made Durga, the destroyer of all evil, after harnessing the strength and love of all the mothers in the world. On this day, we wish everyone the strength to have a kind heart in a cruel world, to stand up against all evil and always remember what’s important – family.
Shubho Bijoya and a very happy Dussehra to everyone!
PS: The illustration is of a Bengali couple in our traditional style of saree and dhoti-kurta.