The true essence of "Sarba - Mangala - Mangalye"

By Paramita Sarkar

Durga Puja has been the symbol of celebration of the Universal Protector, “the Sarba Mangala Mangalye”, celebration of positive energy in life.

As one sees the golden sunshine in Mumbai skies, the effect of the retreating monsoon in the weather, one may be wondering: are we celebrating Durga Puja this year as the world is crippled by a pandemic and there is restriction to social congregation?

Durga Puja is all about bringing people together, its essence is inclusion: from the making of the idol by the idol makers of Bengal, to the mega preparations of the venue and its decor, to the actual days of the puja when teams of women sit organizing flowers, setting the offerings, cooking the Bhog or meal which is offered to the Goddess at wee hours of the morning, men and women organize various parts of the event : the Anjali, Bhog distribution, Aarti, Dhunuchi dance; as everyone taps to the sounds of the traditional Bengal drums, Dhak, watches the entertainment programmes with adrenaline running high – all of it involves coming together, gathering on one platform. How can celebration happen this year without compromise on safety?

We at North Bombay Sarbajanin Durga Puja are celebrating our 74th Durga Puja this year with a difference.

We are mindful that this is one time of the year when besides worship, ritual, fun and entertainment, hundreds of people – artists and artisans, make a major part of their annual earnings. Not celebrating the festival, would impact their livelihood. Key for us is empathy towards these people, safety and continuity of a tradition. We amalgamated all these elements in the way we would celebrate Durga Puja this time.
The idol would be restricted to 4 feet with a 7 feet backdrop, as allowed by Mumbai Municipal Corporation. BMC would get water tanks which would serve as immersion ponds for the idol on immersion day – avoiding crowd and procession. We would move to a hall – smaller than the lavish site of Tulip Star grounds, yet big enough to allow adequate ventilation and free flow of air. The gates would be kept open for specific hours to conduct the rituals and shut later to allow thorough sanitization. The housekeeping staff are those who have been staying at the venue for the past four months – not unknown outside workers. Oxymeters, temperature checks, sanitiser dispensers will be available at the venue. An UV machine has been procured at the venue which will be used to sanitise the offerings to Devi Durga. Social distancing norms and usage of masks and preventive measures will be followed with rigor. Care will be taken to ensure we do not have more than 50 members at any time in the hall. Bhog for the Goddess would be prepared by the members at their homes. We would do live streaming by Jio for the benefit of one and all. We will have to stay away from Bhog distribution and any entertainment. Getting the idol to the venue used to be a big event every year – a day when members, men and women, would dress up in traditional outfit – one group would go to the idol makers venue in Dadar to fetch the huge idol and others would huddle at the puja venue awaiting the arrival of the idol – as if to welcome the Goddess to her maternal home: “Devi-varan” as we would call it. This time we ensured the Idol is sent by the idol maker to the venue. The idol maker is from Mumbai.

The Dhakis who came from a small village of Bengal will not be there with their intoxicating beating of the drums. We have sent them their dues – hoping it will be some support during these difficult times.

We are optimistic. We deeply believe that the “Sarba Mangala Mangalaye” would see us through these uncertain times and the Durga mantra “Hara Kleshangh, Hara Shokam” will prevail.

Paramita Sarkar

Paramita Sarkar is a working professional who is passionate about dance. Her purpose in life is to leave the planet in a better place for future generations. After all, every little bit counts ...