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.