What does the word ‘Ma’ or ‘Mom’ inspire in your mind? I have so far accosted a huge number of friends across cultural groups and religions with this question. To find different flavors of replies which range over birth-giver, linguistic expression for a relationship, an endearing address. However, when I tried to dive deep into their further explanations, each one depicted a clear view of power. Power to meaningfully care, to love and to protect.
They portrayed their vision of a mother, whether looking like a mother or a wife, whether a home maker or a professional. The wistful desire to get the reassurance of a powerful woman holding the hand, always emerged. And, for me, the image of Ma Durga seemed to wrap up all such perceptions of the mother as attempted to be described by all of them.
Ma: Power to meaningfully care, to love and to protect.
Durga Puja, predominantly indentified as a Hindu Festival but whose celebration is actively participated by almost all cultures and communities. Preaches worship of such powerful woman who had once played the role of protector for even the deities.
The festive season oozes out excitement, grandeur, fun and frolics, get-togethers & homecomings for the occasion and what not. The enthusiam often forces the rituals of the worship to take a back seat among only the priests and devotees. And members of the merry-making crowd , do not remain or need to remain conscious of who is being worshipped and why. Fortunately for me, one incident has created a sudden awakening one day, effect of which is permanent.
And I am going to share that memory.
Hungry but Happy..Mother will get food
I was in my end teen, with the mind still engulfed by important thoughts like what dress to wear next. Looking askance at the givers of admiring looks, counting how many pandals remain yet to be visited. How days left –I was merrily pandal-hopping in our family car. The car got stuck in a huge jam and the impatient I, finally came out of my reverie and looked out of the window.
Marks of struggle against hunger and poverty quite visible.
I noticed a small stall on the pavement, newly built and brightly lit, tucked in a tiny space between a lamp post and a tree, dealing exclusively in cheap slippers. They were all packed in transparent polythene which the bright light of the stall slithered upon. At one corner sat the owner, a middle aged woman with marks of struggle against hunger and poverty quite visible. Next to her sat two kids, presumably hers, looking wistfully to the food stalls. They kept craning their necks every now and then to their mother.
Finding me watching the stall with interest, the friend sitting next to me looked over and immediately delved into a long monologues. They discused on the
– feasibility of the business.
– sale of how many would make the business even break even.
– whether there would be enough target commuters, sale etc. etc.
Surely with an intent to impress me. However, as a simple minded girl, I could observe and realize a few simple facts – the woman is in this business as it is one fitting into her limited resources. She is desperate to earn because the hungry kids are sitting next to her while she takes on herself the burden to feed them. And by the looks in the eyes of the kids, they seem to have enough confidence in their mother’s power to do enough selling. At least to protect them from the bites of the hunger. A confidence accumulated through such experience over days and nights, courtesy to humble yet incessant toil of their mother. There is Ma in Ma Durga.
Humble yet incessant toil of their mother.
I lifted my eyes and caught sight of the pandal angularly behind this stall : through the gate to that structure, only face of Maa Durga was now visible. The reflection of Ma intensity in fighting the demons to protect all in her custody. The beautifully face on the idol suddenly seemed no different from the tired mother’s who was still chasing prospective customers in her tiny stall.
I folded my palms in worship, do not know exactly for whom – must have been for both. Let us all worship and respect the Ma in ma Durga.
You can also share your memories of Durga Puja at http://www.kyuquality.com