The sight of the beautifully adorned and lovingly worshipped Durga idol being pushed (yes pushed, as the idol is very heavy, and most of the times, it is next to impossible to remain graceful under all that weight) in water is a sight, which makes me shudder.
Why shudder? I personally find the act almost cruel and unloving, to be able to dunk a piece of art, so lovingly created months ahead, and worshipped with such reverence, to be pushed away. But as my young child pointed out, if we do not immerse Durga in water, how would she go back to mount Kailasha to be back with Shiva? Water here acts as a conduit; her form, made of clay dissolves and traces of her disappear. Her passage back to Kailash is part of legend and folklore.
Also if she is not immersed, how would the artisans give shape to their flights of imagination of giving life to Durga’s physical form when she comes visiting next year? With her visit, the Goddess provides livelihood to artistes of various genres associated in her making; a beautiful amalgamation of legend, art and daily life.
On a personal philosophical level, Durga’s immersion in the Ganges, which I witnessed from close quarters while sitting in a hand-rowed country boat, in Benaras, under a moonlight sky, invoked feelings of drama and surrealism. The immersion made me aware of the ephemerality of life, art and nature.
Being dashami, I saw numerous Durga idols being immersed; one such idol happened to sink beneath my boat….the image has stayed in my mind’s eye…making me feel almost poignant. But, I know, in a matter of a few minutes the clay of Durga’s divine form returns back to where it belongs; back to the riverbed.
The poignant image of Durga being cast in water and coming under my boat, was washed away when I happened to chance by this wonderful capture ( shared below)
Just seeing the joyous glee of the little girl, on having retrieved Durga’s serene face, was enough to make my imagination soar and fill me with wondrous joy. What would this little girl do, I imagined. Would Durga’s face serve as a artful reminder of her fun-filled four puja-days? Or may be even make the little girl with arms full of tinkling bangles play with Durga as her imaginary friend and spin her own magic tales around her? O the possibilities are endless, and I have not stopped dreaming since I chanced upon the picture of the two Durgas.
~ Khalil Gibran’s following words seem to resonate ….
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy