Transferable jobs. It guarantees one thing, you’ll never feel like you’re home. Because home changes every 2-3 years. It also warrants that making lifelong friendships is hard as you’ll never be a permanent resident of any city. But it also allows you to experience festivals and cultures in a very personal and in depth way. You’re no longer an outsider, looking with wonder the beauty of every culture, you are able to live the beauty as being a part of it. So, I decided to take you all through my experience in different states.
Durga Pooja is a festival that is celebrated in India every year by Hindus in the month of September/October. In states of West Bengal and Odisha it s celebrated with most grandeur. We lived in the state of Odisha for a few years and I remember the experience perfectly to this day. Every corner is filled with idols of Goddess Durga. And boy did each organizers compete. there were some fancy Idols. I remember one in which Goddess Durga was on top of an airplane. Don’t ask me the logic behind it. I also remember how we used to park our vehicles in one place and walk around 4-5 km, as it was impossible to drive on roads because of how crowded the streets were.😝 There used to be street vendors all along the path, selling toys and street food. My favourite used to be the soap bubbles😁. I still cherish and miss those days.
Then we moved to Varanasi, the land of temples and cultures. Although every festival was celebrated with grandeur and vigor, my fondest memory is of a festival called Dev Deepawali. All Ghats (steps in the banks of river) are lit up with diyas. They provide candles to anyone who wants to light them up. As a kid that was the best part. I felt like being part of this big community. Not only this, stages were built on top of river Ganga and Maha Aarti was performed on top of this stage. The unison sound of drums, bells and claps filled the air and created a sense of spirituality which really brought a sense of awe.
Then there is Gujarat. The land of Garba. Every year, during Navratri (same time as the Durga pooja) they have a 9 day dance festival in the name of Goddess Durga. There are songs played at night and everyone dances together in unison throughout the night. The steps and simple and repetitive in nature to ensure everyone from grandparents to little kids can partake in the dance festival. Also every society organizes it’s own garba and songs to ensure that even people who don’t want to travel to a specific location can enjoy. Everyone dresses up in traditional Indian wear and it is some of the most colourful scenes you’ll witness. I mean planning dresses for 9 days, matching jewelry, eating awesome food and most importantly dancing all night is one heck of an experience. (P.S. Since it was Navratri festival a few days earlier, I was caught up in the preparation and missed out on my blog posts, but no regrets). I still remember the first time I tried entering the circle. Safe to say, I hit a lot of people while learning how to dance those steps. But everyone was very supportive and helped me a lot in learning all the steps I needed. This experience helped me a lot in letting go of my inhibitions and enjoying myself. Understanding that no one cares if you can’t dance as a professional and most importantly, if you are willing to enjoy, everything works out in the end and everyone cooperates.
Moving on to a festival celebrated in December called Christmas. I am not a christian but an one lucky soul who lives in a country where every festival in celebrated. And to add to that, I’ve had the fortune of studying in a Christian school(They don’t teach you Christianity or anything, they are just schools started and funded largely by Church). These schools celebrate all festivals but since they are funded by churches it’s but obvious that they go over board when it comes to Christmas.The Churches looked magnificent during December. During the entire month of December, we used to sing beautiful carols and decorate the whole school. The best part was that each class had their own Christmas tree and Christmas themed decoration. And we all competed in making our class look the best. One of our teacher used to dress up as Santa Claus and give us chocolates. We also had the tradition of secret Santa where each student was a secret Santa for one classmate (Chosen on the basis of a chit system). So for around 10 days, we had to write them notes telling them about their good qualities. And find a way to send it to their desk without them realizing who it’s sent by. And in the final day, we gave them presents. Not Costly ones. I absolutely loved doing this.
If I keep writing, chances are this post will become way too long for anyone to read. Honesty, It already is. I’ve had the fortune of living and enjoying so many festivals all across India and there are days when I’m really thankful for these experiences. Not only has experiencing these festivals provided me exposure to various cultures but also broadened my perspective and enriched me with memories which will always remain dear to me. It has allowed me to be more accepting as well as more open and fun loving. Maybe someday, I’ll write about other festivals and experiences too.
Thanks for reading.