A Way of Life

My hometown of Calcutta (now Kolkata) recently celebrated its biggest festival, the Durga Pujo (more on this here), one which transcends the religious aspect of it to embrace diversity and camaraderie that can probably only be found in this City of Joy. It is unique and unparalleled and I say this not because I am biased, but because it is a fact, a way of life as known, lived and shared by her people. But as strange and painful that this year has been, it has limited the scope of being with our loved ones and, the festivities have a different look this year. However, from what I hear from friends and family, the festive spirit has not been dampened. People found ways to be with each other during this time of the year, celebrate Durga and Her victories in unique ways over Zoom calls and live-stream sessions,which may have made great philosophers re think about the relationship between art and reality, considering how mixed up the ideal and virtual have been this year.

Way of life here in Jersey is a far cry from the festivities there. The enthusiastic and enterprising bunch that Bengalis are, we have brought our own version of those celebrations wherever we have moved to, and adapting to a new life has not meant that we have parted ways with tradition that is intricately woven into our personal and societal tapestries. Being the product of a global culture, man and his beliefs keep evolving and he pursues one that probably suits his needs the best. So, as opposed to a five day celebration, Durga Pujo here in North America is a weekend affair as school auditorium, the typical venue for the grand celebration, is available for rent only on weekend, obviously. This year, we adapted further…we had to. Google Meets and Zoom calls came to our rescue and we too, celebrated virtually. Many of us decked up and made traditional and scrumptious food fit for the kings, at home. And since Fall is in full bloom, we also were blessed with glimpses of an autumn mosaic.

Way of life as once known has greatly changed and we have all adapted to that, to the best of our abilities, some wittingly and some bearing a bit of a grudge. Online school, while far from being ideal, is the way of life for us as is distancing ourselves from friends and family, physically. It is stressful and tiring and stealing moments from the abstract realities of life, has become a norm.

Amidst a hundred memories and a thousand more to come, people all around are trying to make the best of what they have, may be soaking them in some extra love and wrapping them up with a big warm hug. Fatigue sets in but we refuse to be harnessed by the drudgery of routine…such is the beauty of human resilience. We are cautiously hopeful and our wrinkled hearts keep summoning courage, courage to face all that is unknown. That is the way of life now, has always been and perhaps will always be. As we all celebrate our culture, our milestones in ways that are set in stone or in ways that have evolved, I hope we don’t forget that we are all part of a bigger social and human construct, one that makes our beating hearts unique.Our little stories become part of the woven tapestry called life in which we all have a role to play in that. These help us carry on, these moments, these celebrations, these stories, especially in times like the one that we are living today. Times that are in desperate need of a resurgence of empathy and respect. Let us not forget that happiness is not proprietary, but shared. And that should always be the way of life.

” There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path”: The Buddha.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe. Stay kind.

A Photo A Day: 30 days or so

We have all settled into or made amends with this ‘new normal’ by now, the one that is probably here to stay for a while…much longer than what was expected. With no healing in sight, people are going on with their lives to the best of their abilities, some with courage and perseverance more than many. Some days I am riddled with guilt for cooking an elaborate dinner or baking a cake while families are being torn apart not only in my state but all over the world. I recognize my privilege that lets me cook that pasta I have been craving for and my head bows in gratitude, as I am sure is the case with you too. But then there are days where we celebrate more and reflect more and know that doing so  does not make us oblivious of the pain that is hurting all of humanity at  the moment. We stand in solidarity with each other today more than ever in the recent past and when the world heals, hopefully we will revel in the little moments of our lives a bit more, perhaps more than the big meticulously planned moments. Everyday moments like the whiff of the morning coffee, the sound of our loved ones’ laughter, a sudden throwback to a moment from our childhood, remembering the lyrics of a long forgotten song, going to bed knowing our loved ones are doing okay are priceless and amidst all the lessons this terrible catastrophe has taught us, this is an important one. Everything is cancelled at the moment but Nature has been following its rhythms and Spring is not cancelled nor are Sunrise and Sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you and your loved ones are doing well.