Durga Puja gives West Bengal's ‘dhakis’ fresh hope after two years of despair

Published on Oct 01, 2022 05:44 PM IST

The fervour of Durga Puja is incomplete without the frantic rhythms of the dhak, a big drum-like instrument that men hang around their necks and play with two thin sticks to inject the furious rhythm and enhance the joyful atmosphere.

A group of Dhakis, traditional Bengali drummers, play drums as they wait to be hired at Durga Puja pandal on the eve of Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata.(Sudipta Banerjee (ANI Photo))
A group of Dhakis, traditional Bengali drummers, play drums as they wait to be hired at Durga Puja pandal on the eve of Durga Puja festival, in Kolkata.(Sudipta Banerjee (ANI Photo))
ANI | | Posted by Akanksha Agnihotri, Siliguri (west Bengal) [india]

The fervour of Durga Puja remains incomplete without the maddening beats of dhak, the large drum-like instrument that men hang around their necks and play with two thin sticks to infuse the frenzied rhythm enhancing the festive aura. These enchanting beats are enough to conjure up the sights and smells of Durga Puja. (Also read: Durga Puja 2022: Wishes, images to share with friends and family )

With the Durga Puja commencing today, the dhakis (drummers) from various districts of West Bengal mostly from Malda have turned up in numbers in Siliguri with the hope to earn something substantial that they can take back to their homes for their families. The COVID pandemic had badly affected the livelihood of these traditional drummers as they had not been able to earn a single penny during the festival for the past two years.

Most of them are from far away villages and are poor. They look forward to the festival which comes only once a year with huge expectations. The Durga festival provides an alternative opportunity for these dhakis who mostly throughout the year are engaged in some other form of work.

"Durga Puja is the time for the dhakis to earn some money. Most of the dhakis are generally farmers or daily wage labourers. Our celebrations only come after the puja if we earn good money during the festival. With this money, we buy new clothes for our children and useful things for the household," Bapi Hazra, a dhaki from Coochbehar told ANI.

This year more than thousands of dhakis have culminated in the city like every year. The opportunities lie very little in the villages and the amount offered by the puja organizers over there is meagre compared to today's need. This is the reason, most of us come to the city," said Hari Narayanan, a dhaki from Malda.

The Hindu festival of Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava, is a yearly celebration that honours the Hindu goddess Durga and commemorates her victory over Mahishasur.

Over the years, Durga Puja has become an inseparable part of Indian culture with innumerable people celebrating this festival in their own unique way while pertaining to tradition.Hindu mythology holds that the goddess comes to her earthly abode at this time to bless her devotees. For the Bengali community, Durga Puja is the biggest festival. This year Maha Shashti falls on October 1 and Vijaya Dashami on October 5.

The significance of Durga Puja goes beyond religion and is revered as the celebration of compassion, brotherhood, humanity, art and culture. From the reverberation of 'dhak' and new clothes to delicious food, there remains a merry mood during these days.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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