Thursday, October 1, 2020



Magical Mahalaya

'Wake up', it's Mahalaya.
Dad and Mom's unfailing call.
The sudden nip in the air
the shiver of excitement
running down my spine.

'Jago, Jago Durga' rents the air...
One of life's most impactful
moments for me.

For an entire year
since immersion
Bengal awaits the mega festival,
Durga Puja.

And its essence, its arrival.

Heralded by the immortal baritone of Birendra Krishna Bhadra...

Nothing spells Durga Puja as much as Mahalaya.
The breathless Chandipath,
the saga of the heavenly
war with the demons,
Brahma's heartfelt appeal to Vishnu...

Mahishasura Mardini
the powerful recitation
scriptural verses of Chandi Kavya resounding through every Bengali home and mike that holy morn.

The surreal montage of songs, music, verses
acoustics flowing at pre-dawn.

The reaffirmation of that eternal story of the restoration of Dharma
the morals of triumph
of goodness,

Goddess Chandika
the eternal power.
Manifestation of energy
of all Gods together...

Celestial phenomenon of the creation of the 10-armed Goddess
from the combined power of the Gods...

The beginning of Devi Paksha

An audio celebration dating 1931.
Live broadcast by All India Radio
for over 3 decades.
Far from Kolkata,
us waking to the stentorian voice,
now recordings,
shattering the darkness
of the night and souls.

Nothing has ever been the same again
since Birendra Krishna Bhadra's devotion
resonated through the festive month.

Years later, I made the trip to his home
in the narrow, dark bylanes of North Calcutta.
The most famous Bengali baritone,
then stilled, lying in a coma.
My silent homage to his holy soul.

Many more years,
without Dad's voice calling me awake.
Still I listen
Mahishasura Mardini continues
On radio
On youtube ...
Passing on the passion
to my son.

Legacies of life
to uplift, uphold
memories to cherish
shared joy.
Musical storytelling
of divine conquests.

Goddess Durga's descent on earth
on a Lion as a mount from the Himalayas
Chakra from Vishnu
Trident from Mahadev
Kaal Danda from Yama
Khadga given by Kalbhairav
Ashtrachandra Shield of Chandra
Bows and Arrows of Surya
Kawach, a protective armour from Vishwakarma
Rosary and Kamandalu, the sacred pot of water, from Brahma himself
Adornments fit for a deity from Kuber.

Fitted out in divine glory
Durga's slaying of the demon Mahishasura.
A saga, part of scriptural devotion
common lore,
a soulful rendering evoking the Goddess
on the onset of the festival...

Original script by Bani Kumar
and music by Pankaj Mullick,
now re-recorded by various artists
and filmed profusely.
Dance dramas enacted on
stages and screens...

The mythological story
continues majestically.

The beacon of hope alights every year
and across the globe
devout Bengalis tune in
to the divine tale
and the immortal songs
render the autumnal air holy.

'Dhakis' begin the beat.
The city lights up in myriad colours and designs.
Frantic shopping and gifting ensue
'Pandals' glitter on roads.

The journey from Kumartuli begins.

Goddess Durga arrives in truckloads
in an array of aesthetic designs
in clay, silver, gold
to conchshells blown.
And people line up on every road.

It's Mahalaya.
And it heralds a celebration
of divine proportions.

The End

Unshaken Belief

My tiny hand clutched his tightly.
The road was empty and long.
The night dark and dense.
But I skipped along merrily.
My hand firmly held in my Dad's.

Many such ominous nights came again.
Barren roads which held little hope.
We swam against the tide,
time tested our grit again and again.
We held on, the family as one.
Tears withheld, tears flowing.
But an intangible kept us going.

Doubts never crossed my mind.
His countenance never let my spirits die.
Que Sera, Dad smiled.
Believe in yourself and never say die.

Never stop believing, was what I heard,
when the morning light exuded warmth
and my eyes reflected the golden sun.
Never stop thanking, I whispered back
to the birds flying home
as twilight crept back.

For when I close my eyes,
come day or night,
and retreat inside,
a pure breath of love and comfort
infuses my being.
An intense faith fills my mind,
exuding hope and strength.
In the deep silence
a voice spurs me on,
a bit like thoughts I didn't think,
and in that vast space
beneath His feet,
my road ends.
Blood rushes through my veins again, renewed,
all toxins miraculously flushed out.

Faith reaffirms itself,
again and again
like a perennial heartbeat,
assuring us of triumph against adversity,
virtue over vice.

The End


Breaking into a thousand splinters
it sweeps over the earth,
a galactical journey,
an unfathomable force.

The prism of divine love
Lost in its luminosity,
reborn every moment.
A story without a beginning,
a purpose to fulfill.

Into this iridescence
I rush without fear.
Embracing the brilliance,
Dissolving into it.

The first light!

The End


NANDITA DE NEE CHATTERJEE: Writer freelance journalist/housewife. Formerly with Economic Times. Cover stories and Feature Writer with Statesman, Illustrated Weekly, Economic Times, Telegraph, Times of India, Femina, Filmfare, Germany Today, Voix Meets Mode, UK, Frontier Weekly, Namaste Ink. Was Part Time Lecturer at Calcutta University Journalism department, PG for 7 months. Was Consulting Editor, Environ. Launched Economic Times Marketplace for ET. Co Author : Big Bang of Non-Fiction, Life in Reverse; 30 Best Poets; Sea; Coffee & Echos; Wrapped Up Feelings; Poetry Planet's Christmas in my Heart, Moonlight; Asian Literary Society's A Kaleidoscope of Asia & A Bilingual Anthology of Poems, Poetry Planet's Writers' Haven; Rewrite the Stars; Love Thy Mother; The Real Hero; Heart of a Poet by innerchildpressanthologies; Our Poetry Archive's Striving for Survival; Arising from the Dust.

No comments :

Post a Comment