Idols of Durga immersed, thousands bid tearful farewell

October 9th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) Amid hollering crowds and the frenzied beating of drums, hundreds of idols of Goddess Durga and her four children were immersed in the Yamuna river here Thursday, with many devotees bidding a tearful farewell to the deity.For many Bengalis, the immersion at the end of the Durga Puja festival was like parting with a member of the family after five days of praying, feasting and merry-making at marquees across the city that housed the idols.

Emotionally-charged chants in Bengali of “Hail the mother goddess! She’ll return next year!” reverberated across the calm riverbed, as devotees thronged the immersion point at Kalindi Kunj in southeast Delhi.

“We have just immersed our idol from our house puja. This has been a tradition for ages - 30 of our family members and friends take out a procession from our home and immerse the goddess’ idol in the waters of the Yamuna here,” said Nipa Nag Chowdhury, a 40-year-old homemaker.

Each year her family organises a family puja at their home in Chittaranjan Park, a predominantly Bengali colony in south Delhi.

The final day of the festivities is called Vijaya Dashami or Bijoya, when Durga - the goddess of strength - triumphs over the demon Mahishasura, signifying the victory of good over evil.

On this day, the morning is marked by a ritual called ’sindur khela’, when women smear vermilion on one another, signifying the return of Durga to her marital abode.

In the afternoon, the idols of Durga and her children - Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik - that were worshipped for five days at hundreds of marquees across the city were loaded on to trucks.

Hundreds of processions comprising these trucks and buses loaded with devotees as well as private vehicles then spilled on to the streets and made their way to the Yamuna banks.

Some of the idols were taken to Kalindi Kunj. The other immersion point near Delhi University was for idols from north Delhi.

After the serial blasts in Delhi Sep 13, which left 24 killed and over 100 injured, the security arrangements for the Durga immersions along the procession routes and at the Yamuna banks were tight.

“This year the security has been so tight that unlike in other years we were not able to take a boat to immerse our idol. Instead, we had to wade into the waters. Only police were monitoring the immersions from boats,” Nag Chowdhury added.

Her daughter Yagna said after several days of festivity, the parting left everyone said, almost tearful.

“After immersing the idol I realised that festivities had come to an end. I am very sad, and letting Ma Durga go each year is very painful for us. We plan all year for the pujas and wait for this time of the year, but suddenly it’s over.”

Aditya Majumdar, a member of the Joint Puja Committee (JPC), said: “Although the idols are carried amidst much cheering, on our return we fall silent to express the sorrow of having to part with the goddess.”

“The JPC - the committee that coordinates the pujas ensures that all the idols are immersed. The small household idols come in first, by noon, and are followed by the bigger ones,” said Mazumdar.

“For immersing the idols from big pandals like K Block or B Block in Chittaranjan Park, cranes are required, so the immersion takes place once the crowds lessen towards the evening.”

With the immersions, Goddess Durga and her children depart, leaving devotees with memories of five fun-filled days and a yearning for next year’s festivities.

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