Tomorrow is Bijoya Dashami, the culmination of the single-most important festival Bengalis celebrate: Durga Puja.

Image: Arindam Bhattacharjee via Flickr, Creative Commons

If I were back in Kolkata, I’d be hearing conchs and drums from dusk till dawn.

I’d be visiting puja “pandals” – essentially massive tents artfully constructed from bamboo and cloth, one more elaborate than the other, housing elaborate idols, each more marvelous than the next.

Paint and clay crafted with loving attention.

Goddesses and demons

all sharing the same space, without conflict, without recrimination, without battles, for just a few days.

Bamboo and cloth

coming together to make miraculous constructs of microcosmic worlds too idyllic to last.

Some of them making political statements, all of them beautiful.

I might even be wearing a sari. I haven’t worn one in so long, I’ve almost forgotten what it feels like.

I’d smell anticipation in the air, see excitement in the faces around me, and even the smog would look enchanting in the dusky festival light.

I’d have more patience with the weather, bureaucrats and traffic… and they with me.










Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke