The Durga Puja festival was around and the camp had set up a big pandal for the celebration. It is a big festival of the East India and celebrated with big pomp and show that lasts for about a week long. Along with the Jawans, the villagers were also very keenly taking part in the Durga Puja celebration.
The enormous idol of Ma Durga along with the other deities had already arrived in the pandal and the Dhakis were making the announcement of the start of festival with their traditional beats.
Misry was very delighted. Not because of the big festival which is awaited throughout the year, but because she found a white goat kid tied up in the backyard of their house.
“Hey! Misry, you didn’t go to see the idol?” asked Madhavi.
“No, Ma. Who brought this for me?” Misry asked pointing towards the goat kid.
“Oh! That. Don’t you know? Ma Durga brought it for you.” Madhavi answered.
The delight in the little girl’s eyes was clearly visible hearing her mother’s answer. How much she had longed for a white goat kid since Bheero didn’t allowed her to go near his goat kid. Now she had the opportunity to boast hers too.
She hugged the little animal and cuddled it as if she would never let it go. Since that day Misry’s day started and ended playing with the innocent voiceless animal. The animal too reciprocated her love by playing with her or bonking her with its hornless head sometimes. The entire day Misry was busy with it. She would accompany her mother to the pandal for the puja rituals and whenever got an opportunity escaped back to the animal.
The festival is the time when the children were the happiest because they wear new clothes. Lucky ones, like Misry, had a new dress for every occasion during the festival. They also get new toys, tasty snacks, fun games and get to play with their friends about the whole day in the pandal. And above all, there is the big community meal in the pandal everyday.
But this Durga Puja, Misry was more excited for the animal than anything else. She wasn’t even aware that the innocent animal, she was attaching herself to, was for the sacrifice to the deity. The sacrifice ritual is an important of the Durga Puja Festival. Apart from the religious sentiments the event holds a very special feeling too among the devotees.
Especially with the Jawans. It is considered auspicious for their duty that involved keeping the nation safe from the hands of any intruder. Living away from their families, they keep vigil on our borders day and night even in the most terrible climatic conditions and situations, so that the nation could celebrate festivals like Durga Puja with their families and loved ones. The ritual also meant Bada Khana or big fest.
Misry was unaware of it that with each passing day her little four legged friend was nearing its death. She was busier showering her unconditional love for the innocent animal without any inhibitions.
Her mornings began by taking a glimpse of the sweet little goat kid. Then she offered it a share of her breakfast, of course without the knowledge of any elders in the house. A couple of hours chasing in the courtyard would be filled with laughter and shrieks. It was a bond that was growing with each passing moment without anybody’s notice.
Finally the day came when the goat kid was to be taken for sacrificial ceremony. Misry was getting dressed to go to the pandal when she heard the Dhakis coming to their backyard beating their traditional drums. Following them were some men dressed in dhoti with a long vermilion on their forehead. They opened the gates of the backyard and halted in front of the place where the goat kid was tied up. By this time Misry had also rushed out in the back yard.
One of the men had untied the animal and another was putting vermilion and turmeric on the forehead of the animal followed by a flower garland around its neck. The poor animal was innocently watching and wondering what was going on. Misry too had no clue. She only found people accumulating around their boundary wall to watch the ceremony.
The dhoti clad man sat down in front of the animal and offered his prayers. He had a ceremonial plate in his hand, decorated with an oil lamp, incense sticks and flowers, that he was moving in circular motion over the animal. Then the Dhakis started their beat again while the ladies blew the couch shell and made the Ulu sound. The animal was all set to be taken to the pandal for the sacrifice. Something happened and the animal started bleating. But then men didn’t stop. They dragged the animal along with the procession.
Misry was too young to understand anything but the cry of her four legged friend, was enough to make her understand that all was not well. She jumped right in front of the men and tried to stir away the leash of the animal from their hands. When she didn’t succeed, she hugged the animal and won’t let it go. Anurag and Madhavi came to free the animal but she was applying all her strength to stop the animal.
But her power was too frail compared to the adults and with little effort the girl was separated from the animal. The procession went towards the pandal with the animal while Misry cried uncontrollably. She was so shaken that she lost consciousness and fell off Anurag’s arms on the ground.
Later, her body temperature score high and showed no sign of coming down. She was unconscious and was not responding at all. The doctor was called in but she was not responding to the medicines either. Anurag and Madhavi were in tears. Their only daughter was now in serious condition and they could do nothing about it.
Misry’s condition spread like a wildfire in the pandal. People were now praying for her. She was very close to everybody so her suffering was a big concern to everyone. They wanted her to be alright at any cost. Tears rolled down their eyes too as they watched the helpless parents. The day ended into darkness and still Misry showed no sign of recovery. The doctor advised that if things didn’t change by morning then she had to be admitted in the hospital.
Morning brought in a ray of hope.
Misry opened her eyes and the first word she said was the goat kid.
Anurag took her on his lap and went to the backyard. There stood the white goat with the flower garland still around its neck and turmeric vermilion on its forehead. As soon as it saw Misry it started bleating. Misry climbed down her father’s lap and hugged the animal. For the first time in so many hours she had smiled. Tears smeared Anurag’s eyes as he captured the scene.
“Ma, I am hugry!” Misry shouted to her mother.
Madhavi smiled back wiping the tears off her eyes. The little girl had taught a lesson of joy of life that many had forgotten. Madhavi murmured, “Don’t GROW UP MESSY!!”
The previous day when Misry’s news reached the pandal the sacrificial ceremony was stopped by the Jawans. Instead of animal sacrifice, they perform symbolic Bali with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin. Thus the life of the goat kid was spared and Misry got back her friend.
Glossary* pandal – a temporary structure set up to worship Jawans- soldiers
Dhakis- traditional drummers primarily in Bengal.
dhoti – a traditional men’s garment, worn in the Indian Subcontinent mainly by Indian
Ulu sound– a vocal sound made by a group of women in Bengal during worship
This is #day10 of the AtoZblogging Challenge throughout April.
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here.