It’s that time of the year when mother Durga embarks on her annual vacation, family and pets in tow. The hills in autumn seem greener; the streams sparkle a little more. A thousand miles away from home, in a land somewhat alien I can’t smell festivity in the air. The conch shells and the drumbeats reverberate in the nostalgic realm. I yearn for the doe-eyed beauties uneasy in their crisp sarees. My ears search for the strains of songs in the tongue I called my own.

They say this is a big city. It celebrates festivals of all hues. There are more than 10 million souls cramped in here, but at this time of the year I feel alone, all alone. It’s a time of togetherness of bonding. In my little hill town I knew almost everybody, here in this metropolis all faces seem unfamiliar. With whom shall I share my excitement? To whom shall I narrate my loneliness?

Today is Mahalaya, the day of invocation of goddess Durga in her Mahisasurmardini form (the slayer of the demon Mahisasur). The beginning of the ten days of festivity. My father didn’t wake me up at the crack of dawn to listen to Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s oratorio (set to Pankaj Mallick’s music) on All India Radio. I listened to an MP3 version on my PC instead.

It is of course a religious occasion, but it’s not the gods that I miss, it is the people and the atmosphere. They might celebrate it here, but I don’t feel at home, a home I’ve left a thousand miles behind. Memories that I’ll cherish forever.

Oratorio invoking the goddess Durga by Birendra Krishna Bhadra [04:56 MP3 2.26 MB 64 kbps]

Update: Links to the complete version of Mahisasurmardini is available here. (September, 22, 2006)

Categories: Uncategorized