Durga Puja has always been special for me. Since childhood it has been that time of the year that I prayed to Durga Maa. Alone, asking her for things that I was sure she would give me. In my head, I spoke to her when I saw her idol. Her striking eyes, her long hair, her bright sindoor. I was in awe of her. The idols, the lion, the Mahishasur, it was a sight that would mesmerize me.
She was grand. She was powerful. I would stare at her. She would look right back into my eyes. She was not an ordinary lady. She was the Goddess! The powerful goddess who could do anything! She could fight demons! Why could She not grant my demands!
As a child I genuinely believed that I should carry my wish list to Her. They were not that big anyway!
Please make me win the spelling contest.
Please make me top the class.
Please make me pretty!
Please get me a puppy!
As I grew older, there were relationship demands as well. I wanted my crushes to reciprocate. I used to think only if I had been pretty they would have liked me. I even prayed to make me tall!
Then came 12th Boards. Then CA exams. Getting a job at the prestigious Big Four consultancy firms.
Specific demands from me.
I thought these are the things that people usually have in life that makes their life good.
Each year I measured my life in terms of the things I had asked for and whether or not I achieved them.
Some wishes were granted. Some were not. Some wishes changed as I changed.
Years passed by. There was success at some fronts. There were misses on others. There were moments of happiness too. But they were not related to things I wished for.
Happiness was not contingent on these events. Happiness was moments. Moments that could not be defined by any rule book. Moments that could only be felt.
This Durga Puja was different for me. Unlike every year when I go to the pandals, this time our apartment complex had a Durgotsav. This gave me an opportunity to participate in all the ceremonies and rituals closely. It was a privilege!
This particular Durga Puja, I was alone with Durga Maa.
I spend time on the stage where She was. I was closer to Her. Closer than I have ever been. I could touch Her feet. I could look into Her eyes. I was alone with Her too. I applied on sindoor on Her. I fed Her sweets. I could have asked for anything.
All my wishes during the past 30 something years of my existence kept murmuring back in my head. Wishes that did not even matter a year later, but were still asked for as if my whole life depended on it.
As I bowed my head down to Durga Maa, I thought of my wish list.
But to my surprise I asked for nothing.
I asked for nothing! I felt peace the moment that I felt close to Her. I felt Her. I felt Her power. I felt Her strength. I felt Her strength inside of me.
Unlike all these years, I did not ask for anything. And trust me, it is not because I had nothing to ask for. I could have asked her to fix so many things in my life. But I did not. Why?
Maybe because over the years I know that wishes don’t get granted.
Maybe because I know that life somehow just goes on.
Maybe because I know that sometimes things that we ask for does not even matter to us a year later.
Maybe because I know that no event, no person, and no achievement can make me happy unless I know how to be happy.
Maybe because things we consider ‘happy’ at one point turn out to the biggest disappointments
Maybe because happiness requires undoings and God cannot decide that for us.
Maybe because the endings in life that we fear are actually new beginnings.
Maybe because I know now that man ka ho to accha, nahi ho to aur acchcha, kyunki fir who Bhagwan ki icchha (Quote from Shri Amitabh Bachchan)
Maybe because I finally know that I am responsible for my happiness and I owe it to myself.
Across the world, people who are going through tough times are wished, “May God give you the strength to deal with this.” Yet, the most common aashirwad in our culture is, “Khush raho.”
It is our responsibility to keep ourselves happy. We have limited time and energy. To do that, we have to continuously pursue things that make us feel alive. And part of being happy is to disconnect ourselves from people and situations that take away from our sparkle.
What more can I ask the Goddess for?
My job, “Khush raho.”
Only wish for the Goddess, “Give me strength.”
And that covers it all.
Maybe it was always that simple.