I started the day by waking up at two am. You may be wondering why exactly I did that. Well I've been just a tiny bit sick and I couldn't sleep. I decided that instead of just lying in bed, I could write and read my time away. I decided to actually work on something for my blog. That's when I remembered that today was Durga puja. This is one of the most important of all Bengali festivals. It celebrates the homecoming of a daughter. The goddess Durga to be precise. This festival celebrates the time of every year when Ma Durga comes back to Bengal, or her parent's home, after her yearlong stay with her husband. The most important thing however is the fact that she comes with her own children, and does not bring her husband. Thus leading into the other two celebrations of the year after her daughters, Lokhhi puja, and Shoroshothi puja. Ma Lokhhi is the goddess of wealth. This celebration usually honors all female children. Ma Shoroshothi is the goddess of wisdom. Another tradition is praying to the goddess before any big tests like the year final. Ma Durga's celebration is one of the biggest of all. A weird thing about the Bengali people's version of Hinduism, is that we only really celebrate the female goddesses and that is why Ma Durga's sons sometimes go ignored in Bengali culture. You may have heard of Ganesh, with his elephant head. You probably haven't heard of Karthik though, he is the god of generals. Sounds weird I know. I just learned this today.
After my antics of the morning, I got ready to leave. I put on my long salwar and leggings which is the traditional Indian dress, along with the iconic sari. I got in trouble for not cleaning my room, as well as asking too many questions to do simple tasks which made me kind of mad and put us 50 minutes behind schedule. The first one was fair, but the second was kind of unjust, if I'm being honest. Anyway, I got into the car in a sort of sour mood thanks to the earlier predicament as well as me being sick. The day before had been kind of terrible too, as I realized my school computer screen had cracked and I would have to pay 80 dollars from my own savings for it, as well as getting a 94 percent in algebra for messing up a couple of directions just the tiniest bit, and getting deducted to a fifty percent for the day in health because I was asking the guy next to me to stop distracting me so I could work, and I was caught 'talking '. So I felt pretty terrible in general.
We got there after a long while. I met up with my friend that I hadn't seen in almost a month and we got to catch up with each other a little bit. The second of three of the tests I have to pass to get my blackbelt was the week right after, and I ran into my other friend who was taking the test with me. Well not the most amazing day, but it was good. Me and the first friend walked around, exploring the campus of the college where it was being hosted, and chatting, catching each other up on what had happened at our respective schools. Me, the nerd that I am, loves role playing, and I kind of introduced her to that world and made up a character for her. I successfully got Hamilton stuck in her head, again. We got some candy and split it, and it was pretty much a great big honking celebration. That's kind of what Durga puja is really. A culmination of our culture and basically just another reason to party all night. That's it. Eat, party, dance, and have fun. Whether it's walking around getting stuff from vending machines, or saying hello to everyone you know, It's almost impossible to not enjoy yourself just a little.
Another thing is that all families have at least 1 or 2 friend groups. And by groups I mean like 20 people. And their kids. It's actually kind of fun when all those 5-year-olds come over. Now by five-year-olds I mean 4 really cute but evil little boys and another really adorable little girl. Then there are of course three younger ones, two cuties being less than a year old, and the other a year and a half. I had fun with them. It's crazy how many weird conversations you can carry out with 5 year olds at 1 in the morning. You may notice that I didn't include any kids my age. Yeah, that's because in this group, there are none. By none, I am not kidding. You know that friend who I was walking with? She's from our other group, and the only one in any of the groups that is even remotely close to my age. I still enjoyed myself though, holding the year and a half year old little kid in my lap for almost the entirety of the time, playing peek-a-boo with and laughing with the 2 that were less than a year old, playing ball and building things with legos with the boys, and racing cars with them (trying to get into their brains that girls actually do like that kind of stuff) and singing Moana till my voice died on me with the little girl.
Doing high kicks and showing off TaeKwonDo skills to not only excite the kids, but to show my improvement and love of that amazing sport to their parents who I consider my family, and getting to know the kids' grandparents who I had not previously known, or carrying out a conversation with those of whom I did know. Horsing around and making mischeif with a friend at a festival. Laughing and joking with people I know, bonding over where we come from, and where we are. Wearing a Sari on the second day of the puja, and running around in it like our parents would back in India, roughhousing with their friends. It's a really amazing experience. It may not be exactly like what goes on in India, but the essence is still there. I am glad to be a part of this amazing culture, and glad that I get to experience this, even when I live on the other side of the world. Like Moana, I love where I live, and I love the home of my ancestors. For her, that home was the ocean. For me, it's what's beyond that ocean. India. I don't want to leave, but I don't want to lose my roots either. Because what is a tree if not for its roots?