It is not at all our intention to cast a dampener on your unbounded joy this festive season. But, while not meaning to grouse and grumble, we have to say that plunging into the celebrations is not the same as it was at one time. Granted that we need security, but having to park your car several miles away from a puja pandal, to get a dekko at Durga, does take the wind out of your sails, unless you happen to be a fitness fanatic.
Then, there is the question of the pandals themselves. As we were observing the festivities recently from the comfort of our sofas, we discerned that the spiritual and the temporal had merged seamlessly in many places. While Durga stood ever ready to vanquish evil, in one particular city, she shared space with the chief minister of the state, an effigy of him, of course. The said effigy spun at 90 degree angles at intervals at which the achievements of his government were relayed to the onlookers. Very clever indeed, a trend which could catch on, judging by the public interest in this particular form of propaganda. Of course, idols have often been fashioned to resemble if not your beloved elected representative, then one or other movie star. In football crazy states, the festivities include some representation of the game. And speaking of which, can West Bengal be far behind? This time around, the festive season has been utilised to good effect to sell books propagating the ideology of both the Trinamool and the Left. We fear that should by some chance the books pushed by the Left outsell those of the Trinamool persuasion, our Mamatadi may discern a vile Maoist plot in the proceedings.
Those of you who are environmentally conscious and quail at the sight of idols being immersed in rivers adding to the pollution, take heart. There are now eco-friendly celebrations where all the materials used are natural and biodegradable. But, do the rigours involved detract from our love of festivities? Of course not. But we just wish that we did not have to hike long distances, brave the security barricades and then have to witness subtle political battles being fought alongside the eternal one of good over evil.