HOME IS WHERE THE PUJA IS
Travel+Leisure India|October 2021
As preparations crescendo for this year’s Durga Puja, ANUBHUTI KRISHNA reminisces about the humble pandals of Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, and her family’s annual rituals.
ANUBHUTI KRISHNA

IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH the dhaak, the quintessential Bengali percussion instrument that announces the arrival of Durga Puja around the country. Dhaakis, usually village men who arrive in town well before the festival, are entrusted with the responsibility of welcoming not only Goddess Durga but also her many children. On the first morning of the festival—and all its mornings thereafter—it is this beat that wakes me up and reminds me that I am home for Durga Puja.

I did not grow up celebrating Durga Puja. In Uttar Pradesh, where I spent my early years, it was not the primary festival. Yes, every town I lived in celebrated Durga Puja, but my encounter with it was rare and perfunctory. You can call it my luck then that I chose to marry a Bengali man, and, by extension, the festival. I distinctly remember how anxious I was before my first trip home for Durga Puja; I wasn’t sure how I would cope. I needn’t have worried, though. My hometown-in-law, Jamshedpur, was, and remains, a modest place, and Durga Puja here is always the same: quiet and intimate. It was the first time I enjoyed the festival and saw beyond the noise. In the past two decades since home trips have become a permanent fixture on our autumn calendar.

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