By Adda

the vermilion riot...

the Durga Puja is finally ending, the 10th day of the festival is marked with married womenfolk coming together and bidding the Goddess adieu. They all greet her with vermilion powder on her forehead and wish her 'bon voyage' for her journey back to the heavenly abode...but not before taking a promise from her that she'll back again next year.

Married women, as a custom, smear each other as well with the vermilion powder (an identification of a married woman). More often than not the custom gives way to a playful riot among women as they try to paint each other red. This is a delight to watch. Emotions and laughter flow freely. Men dont have any role to play...they're just bring their women to the pandals and take them back home when they're all painted in red beyond recognition. This ritual can be a photographer's delight. I along with Mrs Adda went to the pandal near our home for the ceremony. As we hardly know any bengali family here, for us, it was just about the traditional part of wishing the Goddess and seeking her blessings. There were a few more families there who indulged into quite a bit of playing with colors. I did take a few shots but then one of the young wives walked up to me and demanded that I delete all her pictures. I did - even the ones where she was hardly recognizable. There probably were a few good ones in the lot but I decided to let them go.

Though we had a long weekend and we went out on all the three days, it still doesn't seem enough. It sure was more active and festive than any other regular day but still a feeling of incompleteness is there. The good thing about being in Kolkata during this time of the year is that there's so much packed in every single day of the Puja that the beginning of it seems like a distant dream. When I miss such festivals due to work-related reasons, there's a feeling that somewhere something is wrong in setting the priorities right in life.

In a completely different celebration of another festival that falls on the same day, people from north India burn huge effigies of the ten-headed-demon-king Raavan. Not much of that around in this part of the city but I do see one setup near my house. I might go there in the evening but guess I already have enough pictures in the collage today :)

Life back to normal from tomorrow.

BIG red...

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