Maa Aschen

Reds and yellows are filling up the doorways. 
Nothing is being left behind – the walls, the passages and the streets. 
You can feel it in the air. 
We are getting ready for the Pujo

In 2016, we were moving to Kolkata at this very time. 
All I could see was the mayhem. The traffic filled roads, the inconvenience that Puja had caused for me. A rushed decision to pick an apartment, the luggage stuck somewhere for days because of the pandals. How would I ever get to my son stuck in another city! How does anything get done in this city, I wondered then. 

But now, I get it. 
I understand. 

Maa Aschen’ has such beautiful ring to it. 
You can see Her in the distance, somewhere beyond, coming to you. 
You can feel it in the buzz. 
You can hear it in the sounds of the conch in the distance. 

Pujo is a celebration of every woman 
who has been abused, abandoned, harassed and has survived.

Durga is Shakti. 
Durga is strength. 

Durga is every woman, I see in my building; Every maid I have encountered these two years, who has been abused, abandoned, harassed and survived. And they all have. 
Durga is every mother who single-handedly raises her children, educates them with no support. Every single one of them. 
Durga is that mother who has fought her husband to give her son the opportunity to go an english medium school. 
Durga is the strength in that woman that picks herself up despite everything and gets to our homes to care for our children like her own. 
Durga is the smile on every weary face as they queue up to travel over an hour by train, auto or foot to get home by night. 

My city is filled with these women, with these epitomes of strength and courage. 
I believe Pujo is a celebration of them, who like the Goddess tear down every sense of despair and negativity. 

As the city comes to a standstill, they too will take a pause, and breath in the celebration. For ten days, they will look to the Goddess. And in Her, they too will find themselves. They too will find strength and purpose to take on the pain, the turmoil and the sacrifice. 

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