Sunday, February 25, 2018
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vijay dashmi

Dear readers, our beloved readers, to all of you the Patrika family extends the warmest of greetings on the occasion of Dussehra and Durga Puja. This has  been an extraordinary year. We began with the successful holding of the Maha Kumbh mela, winning accolades from all over the world for successfully organizing one of the most mammoth fairs  on earth. 

But  something went wrong somewhere so that the post-Mela  period seemed to have come down on us as a punishment for the sins we committed in squandering or swindling millions of rupees that were meant to beautify the city but which seem to have gone down the drains of negligence, maladministration if not corruption. Gandhiji would say that the floods and the  heavy rains that we recently  experienced were  a punishment for our sins of omission and commission.  No wonder, even for holding our grand annual shows on the occasion of Dussehra and Durgapuja, we have had to face this year challenging obstacles created by water-logging, broken and battered roads, power and water crises and  deplorable hygienic conditions resulting in the spread of water-borne diseases like gastro-enteritis, jaundice, typhoid and deadly mosquito-borne diseases like dengue. The ‘Visarjan’  issue also cropped up. But relief has again been given by High Court this year to immerse the idols in Saraswati Ghat also.

These difficulties notwithstanding, today, on the occasion of the twin festival of Dussehra and Durgapuja, we first  appeal for  forgiveness from Ma Durga and Lord Rama for our sins of omission and commission at various levels and then seek Their blessings to so strengthen us as to make us foolproof against all the temptations which have been  leading us astray. Isn’t it a wonder that in spite of the harrowing time we have gone through, the twin festivals   are still being celebrated today  with the same glory and grandeur in an atmosphere bathed in spiritual joy? For the moment  we have driven away all worries from our hearts and we are  coming out of our closed minds  to be one with the  world buzzing with  festive  joy.

Yes, today is a day of rare reunion. Centuries ago family was a closely-knit unit with all members of the joint household providing the umbrella of protection to the young and old. Only married daughters were missed. They would come home for the celebrations too.  But today  the compulsions of modern times have  forced families to split, the means of communications facilitating the young to seek better avenues of employment in distant lands. However, the Durgapuja and Dussehra festivals reunite the families in most cases. Sons and the families, no matter where they be posted, reach Allahabad to be reunited with their parents for the grand events. They may be finding the city changed for the better or the worse but Ganga Jamuna are the same, Ram Mandir is the same, Hanuman temples are the same. Thus, these festivals also mark the home-coming of  children. This  adds to the  joy of the occasion. I know you will be too busy today to find time to look at newspapers. Even so I wish each one of you a very, very happy and prosperous Dussehra and Durga Puja.

Today we  reach the climax of the Dussehra and Durgapuja celebrations all over the country. Our city, which has been decked up for the enchanting events , will remain lost the whole day and the whole night in the magic, color and splendor of the twin festivals. Our roads will be packed to capacity to view the combined Pajawa-Patharchatti Ram Dals, more spectacular than any procession witnessed any where any time. The same joy, the same thrill can be seen on the faces of the multitudes as they chant, ‘Jai Siya Ram’. The same vigor, the same devotion is there as used to be witnessed centuries ago. Today you will see the same scenes and get lost for the moment in the spirit of the joyous occasions. Isn’t it a miracle ?Times have changed, centuries have passed, eras have ended, epochs have come and gone, empires have  sprung up and perished but the Dussehra-Durga Puja celebrations have continued  without fail. Foreigners came, subdued us, conquered us and subsequently fled or departed from  the country when our freedom fighters left them no choice except to quit gracefully. All the while  Ma Durga and Lord Ram were protecting us.While history was being made, tyrants and saints kept on treading the earth, some tormenting us, some providing us solace , the faith of the masses remained unchanged. The face of the country changed and re-changed, the maps underwent drastic transformation, some for the better, some for the worse, but the grandeur of our devotion to Ram and Durga  has remained unchallenged, undiminished. Some Babas blessed us with their Divine flashes while there have been others who in the garb of saints have been exploiting their ashrams for the pleasures of the flesh.
What better proof do we need than the surging sea of devotees we see whose faith has  remained undiluted, whose beliefs could not be crushed in spite of efforts to the contrary by the forces of aggression ? That has been a great victory too – victory of our belief in Lord Ram, Ma Durga and all other gods and goddesses which adorn our hearts and inspire us to move forward without fear.

The  scenes and settings might have undergone a marvellous change. In the past we illuminated the surroundings with earthen lamps or candle-sticks. In those days that illumination was sufficient to drive away the darkness of sorrow for the moment. Today we have sparkling lights. If the electricity department is unable to cope with the excessive load and power goes off the celebrations are not affected because stand-by generators restore the lights almost instantly. During the Ram Dal processions whenever power plays the truant  the power generators step in. The transition from ‘Diyas’ to bulbs has been so smooth because the change has been welcomed. With the Gods and Goddesses blessing us from their heavenly abode,the illusion is that  all is well with the world, all is well on earth. That is the optimism which surcharges our energy to strive for a better world. We know that in real life things have slumped from bad to worse. The global scene is haunted by violence, terror and the rest of it. But the festivals , at least for the time being, create an illusion that all is well with the world. Isn’t it good to get lost in that illusion and live for the moment  in a world full of light and joy. Our greetings to you once again!






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