Durga Puja is much more than a religious festival for Bengalis. Atheist or believer, every Bengali celebrates Durga Puja with equal gusto. The four days of revelry end with the immersion of Maa Durga’s idol in ponds, rivers and lakes on Dashami as she returns to Lord Shiva’s abode.
With the passing of Dashami and immersion of Goddess Durga sadness descends on the hearts of every devotee. Four days of festivities just vanishes in a jiffy. Although a bit tearful in spirit as Bijoya Dashami is the day, we bid adieu to Durga Maa and her children, Bijoya is joyous occasion.
In Bengali tradition, the meaning of the term Bijoya, means Victory in the literal sense. Shubho Bijoya, thus, means “The Positive Victory”. Bijoya is celebrated from the final day of Durga Puja, that means, from Vijaya Dashami till Kali Puja or Diwali. That is, it has a celebration time of about almost a month.
Vijaya Dashami signifies Maa Durga’s victory over the demon God, Mahisasur. This signifies the conquest of good over the evil. Shubho Bijoya is the way of greeting each other after the Durga Puja to mark this victory of positive energy in our lives.
Of course sadness was the predominant (and quite publicly noticeable) emotion when I was small. We used to be sad as it was the last day of the much awaited festival, the excitement, which was carried in our little hearts for months in a row was ending.
The immersion (বিসর্জন) or the departure of the pomp and grandeur of Maa Durga meant going back to the routine. It was time to go back to wearing the school uniforms and running to school in morning. And now, it’s the time to go back to the regular office routine, targets, spreadsheets, presentations, meetings, etc.
Bijoya was the time when we used to hop from house to house touching the feet of all elders, curious to taste their Bijoya special delights and receive a platter of sweets or savories for us visiting kids. Rating the houses based on the cooking skills of the kitchen owner an important part of the game.
As a grown up now, we have Bijoya sammilanis, where all the families gather to exchange greetings, embrace each other — kolakuli (কোলাকুলি) and taste the festival sweets and lavish meals. This has indeed simplified the yesteryear’s rituals, cutting short the greeting period to one day vis-a-vis over a month back then. The only thing that this common meeting place does not allow is rating the houses based on the quality of food, and most of the times, these are organised in restaurants or outsourced to caterers. So taste spotting is a bygone ritual.
বিসর্জন মানে মা আসবে আবার ফিরে
খুশিতে থাকুক সবাই তোমায় ঘিরে,
মনকে শুধু বোঝাই তবে
আসছে বছর আবার হবে।
‘Asche Bochor Abar Hobe’ meaning it will happen again next year. Maa Durga will visit us again next year. Happy Bijoya! Shubho Bijoya! শুভ বিজয়া! Bolo Durga Mai ki jai! (Glory to Mother Durga!)