From a ‘Hindustani’ to a ‘Bangali’ – “Durga belongs to all of us who wait for her every year, observing our fasts and traditional rituals without making any fuss as you do. The rest of India does not celebrate Durga Puja because she is Bengal’s daughter and this is about ‘your’ Goddess coming home. Since when have you cared about the ways in which non–Bengali ‘others’ celebrate Durga Puja to assume that Puja for us is havan, mantras, fasting and abstinence alone? And what if we do? What gives you the right to make fun of our piety? We see commercialisation of Durga Puja, Bengali-style but have rarely complained.”
I recently read this article, “Dear Bengalis, the Rest of India Also Celebrates Durga Puja“, and it pointed out to the above comment!
And it got me thinking! Of course I have met exceptions, but yes I have met many Bongs who claim Durga Puja only to be theirs, and laughing on Hindustanis for fasting and going vegetarian! You know, I know a lot of Hindustanis who visit and appreciate Puja pandals, but I know very few Bangalis who get involved with Navratra celebrations. Again nothing wrong, but I doubt there’s anything to make fun of!
Many may not agree with the argument here, coz there are always exceptions in both the sides. As one Bangali pointed out, extreme actions beget, generally, extreme reaction. Extremism, any kind, is generally a symptom to a disease, often lacking diagnosis. Someone offended an egg-roll thereby offending some Bengalis who chose to defend egg-rolls and in the process associated them with history, geography, culture and rituals and eating habits of Bengalis. But the rest carried on, went about their Durga puja, and Navratri and Muharram and Dusshera. The issue has been historically a conflict of ideology between conservative Hindu Bengalis and Hindu North Indians on food, culture, evolution and application of Sanskrit.. So the point argued in the said article was never actually a point, it was an extreme reaction to an extreme action, limited to a small percentage of Bengalis and non-Bengalis. The way forward would be to ignore any of this, action or reaction. Not always easy cause we are sentimental. But we are logical too. At least we think we are…
I absolutely agree that extremism in any form is not at all healthy. And my point here is just that one extreme sentiment should not be making fun of another extreme sentiment, irrespective of Bengalis or Non-Bengalis! One should not be judgmental over who eats an egg roll, and who doesn’t! But of course that is difficult as correctly pointed out, we are sentimental. Our sentiments take an upper hand over our logic, and these discussions and debates come into existence because of that. Had we been able to ignore such actions and reactions, we would have become a better place! Our country stands on such extremism. My only point is that sometimes we take the diversity of our country (and I am not even getting into religious diversity yet, just cultural) too seriously. So encouraging such extreme feelings may not be right, but can it be ignored? Being in a country where we fight over rituals to festivals to language to religion, how much do we ignore? We cannot even get a traditional wedding smoothly done because we cannot decide on the better tradition. Let alone an inter-state wedding of a Kashmiri – Kannada, a Goan – Rajasthani, or a Manipuri – Gujarati having clashes, a brahmin – non-brahmin for a Tamil, and a Bangal – Ghoti for a Bengali also causes clashes.
With Durga Puja coming to an end, my debate here comes to an end! I’ll come back with more Hindustani-Bangali conflicts that I keep observing!