“Dad, Ma Durga is killing somebody, then why does she have a smile on her face? Shouldn’t she be angry?” I asked my father inside the magnificent Mohammad Ali Park pandal. He looked and smiled at me but did not answer my question. Even at seven in the morning the place was jammed with pandal hoppers. The intensity of the movement was like a wave. Everybody wanted to get a good look at the gallant goddess, pushing each other for an up close view.
I was always awed at the passion and clarity with which the scenes in every pandal were depicted. So many ideas, so much thought and care was put in the making of each pandal. If I remember correctly that year the theme displayed there was that of a village. The construction material used was sand. The graven image poised proudly amidst the three dimensional caricatures of the villagers and animals. There was a lady peeking through the grilled window, watching the goddess put an end to the demon’s life. The cow and the dog continued about their usual business, undisturbed by the
buzz all around, as if they were aware about the circle of life as well as the obviousness of the situation.
Everything symbolised something. But my question still held its upright position. It was beyond my understanding as to how could somebody be happy while killing someone. As we visited the array of pandal, I just wanted to see the expression of deity. The confusion clouded my thoughts so much that it was apparent upon my face. This was a serious issue for a twelve year old girl because it defied whatever she had been taught.
Where was the guilt of killing someone? Why the smile did portrayed satisfaction? How could blood make somebody happy? These were not humanistic aspect of life. It made the goddess evil for me and the demon, a poor victim. How could god ever be evil? Ultimately I blamed the humans for making such a cruel delineation.
My mother unlocked the door and we walked in the house. I went to my room and so did everybody else. Still lost in the thought I did not notice father behind me, until he sat down. I was listening to my iPod and I one swift motion pulled them out of my ears. I stared at my father with a questioning expression. He brought his hand forward and caressed my hair softly. The crease on my fore head automatically disappeared and a smile appeared on my face. He sat with me for some time until I dozed off.
I did not remember the question next morning. It never mattered either, until today, eight years later. Why does it matter today? Because I found the answer and remembered my question distinctly. The expression not only epitomises the victory of good over evil but also marks the end of an era of oppression. What’s new in that? Nothing. The smile was not there because she had killed somebody but because she could free several souls. The thought that there was an opportunity for them to begin fresh, brought about the satisfaction. The glint in her eyes stands for the promise that all sufferings shall come to an end. The name durga itself means elimination of all sufferings. As soon as she killed the buffalo demon, she became Mahisasur Mardini, the one with strength, power and determination. Durga! Durga!