Apropos the letter, ‘Purpose of Durga Puja celebration’ by Salil Gewali Shillong, (ST Oct 1, 2022, ) I would like to add that, according to the ‘Purana’ (old mythology) the word ‘Durga’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Durgo’ a very destructive demon which was killed by the goddess of strength; and she was named as ‘Durga’. (Ref:- Saral Bangla Abhidhan by Subal Mitra Pg. 612)
These days people opine that Durga Puja is nothing but mirth and merriment and involving wastefulness; that it is less religious but more luxurious and a carousel. It may appear so from the outside but the actual significance of Durga puja is far more than that. The essence of Durga Puja is the triumph of truth over untruth, good over evil, light over darkness and triumph of knowledge over ignorance.
Durga Puja, is not only a religious ritual but through this festival, our arts, crafts, culture, our traditional heritage, our social values and custom, our hospitality are expressed in different spheres of life and living; and over and above all the eternal philosophy of life and death is lying behind the celebration. The goddess whom we welcome with joy and pleasure, bid farewell after enjoyment of three days, and mercilessly throw the beautiful idols for immersion. Here is the great philosophy of enjoyment and sacrifice!
After the immersion of the goddess, people celebrate ‘Vijaya’, the ceremony of victory, joy and union. In a mass prayer, hymns are uttered for universal peace, prosperity and unity. In a word, Durga Puja aims at universal welfare. Durga Puja is a symbolic expression of the socio religious life of ancient India, which aims at universal fraternity.
Shillong – 4
Spirit of Durga Puja
As a permanent resident of the State of Meghalaya and the city of Shillong, I reflect on the situation today and cannot but compare it with those dark days of 1979 down to the late 1980s when Durga Puja could not be celebrated with the gaiety and effervescence that is being witnessed today when people walk around from pandal to pandal without any shadow of fear. Meghalaya has evolved since those days which were followed by militancy in the 1990’s up to about 2002. On this day I cannot help but recall the contribution of (L) Home Minister RG Lyngdoh and before that the late Mr TH Rangad. These were men of substance who as Home Ministers discharged their duties to the best of their ability. They braved the bandhs calls on Republic Day and Independence Day and were responsible for bringing back this climate of security and safety in Shillong. For this we remain grateful to these two gentlemen who would not have allowed illegal coal mining and its transportation.
To compare the present Home Minister to these above two gentlemen would be a great dishonour to their memories. They actually gave their today for our tomorrow. Today we have a Home Minister who drags his feet in taking action against a police official who prima facie has been found to have abused his position in the Police headquarters. This would not have been tolerated unless the Home Department is also involved in this entire vehicle acquisition scam. The Home Department is crucial to the safety and security of the state and its citizens and not just that of the VIPs which is what the police are being largely used today.
Some of our policemen lost their lives in the fight against militancy. Others, particularly a few officers, actually put their lives on the line. I still recall GHP Raju who was then the SP, East Khasi Hills and his team comprising M. Kharkrang and Claudia Lyngwa amongst others who put up a brave fight against the militants then. If not for them and for a decisive Home Minister RG Lyngdoh we would still be having to live in insecurity. It is unfortunate that a capable and competent police officer should now opt to do administrative work. This happened only once before when Mr BK Day Sawian was CEO of Shillong Municipality. I am unsure why a trained and competent police personnel in a state that’s lacking in quality policing should be doing administrative work. But in Meghalaya anything and everything is possible! I am very sure that officers like GK Iangrai would not have succeeded to do what they did if the higher ups in the Police Headquarters had their eyes and ears open.
As a senior citizen, I regret to say that the state of affairs in Meghalaya today are not at all promising. We are fortunate that militancy has been tamed else things would have taken a turn for the worse. But having said that the parameters of governance are all going south although the Chief Minister is on an inauguration spree of this or that road and sports projects galore. These are all election stunts. Whether these will be completed is the million dollar question.
That said, I wish those celebrating Durga Puja my heartiest wishes.