There he stands in the corner. Barefeet. Clad in a white vest with holes & a dhoti. He stands there with the dhaak, almost doubling up with the weight of the instrument. The organiser tells him to play the dhaak from time to time. He obeys. Suddenly the sound of dhaak bursts into the pandal. He is playing the dhaak in a frenzy. Smoke from the arati engulfs the pandal. The sound of the bell in the hands of the pujari fills the air. But it all gets engulfed by the sound of the dhaak. Strong, singular, powerful, exhilarating,invigorating, towering above everything else. That's how the sound of the dhaak is. Wait. That description matches that of Maa Durga too! Maybe she resides in the dhaak. Thats what gives the old, frail dhaaki to play the dhaak in such a frenzy. Thats what gives him the strength to continue playing for hours at a stretch, to stand barefeet in the magnum pandal for hours, the strength to continue playing without thinking of his own joy or his family,the strength to swallow the harsh words & insults from the organisers if he slips in his job,the strength to withstand the huge crowd which doesn't even bother to glance at the dhaki, the strength to supress his jealousy when he sees all the people wearing new clothes & wasting money,while he struggles to draw up just two square meals a day for himself & his family.
But its the festive spirit. Its the joyous time of the year, when everyone is busy frolicking, forgetting all their differences & troubles. Its the time to be happy. But isnt it also the time to keep others happy? Cant we spare a thought for all those who are not so lucky to celebrate & join the festive spirit? Cant we care for the old,frail dhaaki standing in a corner of the pandal, or the 12-year old balloon seller who instead of spending a happy time pandal hopping with other kids, is roaming around streets looking for customers so that he can have a proper meal, or the man selling hats & whistles,struggling to find customers to buy his cheap ware,or maybe the old woman standing at the pandal asking for alms?
It's time we look around us. It's time we start caring. Durga pujo is all about ending of evil. So its time we come forward & take an initiative to end the evils plaguing our society.