Pre-script - definition of Bisarjan according to Samsad Bengali-English dictionary is "immersion of the image of a deity"
Every year the idol is carried down the broken stairs with inappropriately dazzling neon lights pouncing down them. There is a crowd of faces that can't decide whether they should express the grief at the end of the carnival or the chilling fear of losing someone. The idol of the mother goddess in the avatar of Jagaddhatri ,meaning the One who bears the world (a festival similar to Durga Puja, most grandiosely celebrated in Chandannagore, a town near Kolkata) has been the centre of all the joy and laughter for the past few days. She is the reason we got to meet our friends and family, whom we haven't met for over a year. The end of the festivities means an empty dalan (a broad space within the house), with a singular lamp lighted in front of the empty dais on which the idol was placed. The end of festivities means a strange emptiness amidst the pedestrian duties in the household. The end of festivities means the chilling knowledge that the one who will be holding the idol from behind, just before the idol is given bhasan (immersion of the idol in a water body), is most dangerously placed.
The idols are usually given bhasan with their faces looking skywards. They are not slumped into the water face down. The individual standing behind the idol can't be seen by the other fellow bearers of the idol. There is a dangerous possibility that the idol will fall on him, resulting in his drowning.
The laughter of the last few days, or, even of the last few moments - when everyone was travelling in a hood-less vehicle with the idol from home to the ghats (stairway leading to the river), sounds of the voices singing and of the conch-shells, interspersed with the occasional frenzied cries of "Aschhe bochor abar hobe!" (We will have this fun again in the next year!) - now transforms into panic-stricken shouts rising above the beats of the dhak (a drum-like instrument used during the pujas in India). They are cautioning the individuals carrying the idol - 'Watch out that step! It's broken!' ; 'Don't stand behind the idol directly!'; 'Be careful!' All such panicky cries would be subsided by a few calm voices. One of them was his. 'Don't worry, I am there.'
Dashami is the last day of celebration held in honour of any of the deities in Hindu mythology. The immersion of the deity is accompanied by the distribution and exchange of sweets. Why would one think of celebrating the end of a festival? Why would one have sweets after immersing the deity into the oblivion of the water world? Possibly because the act of bhasan means the continuing cycle of creation, procreation and destruction. Like the trinity espoused by hindu myths - Brahma (the Creator god), Vishnu (the Protector god) and Maheshwar or Shiva (the Destroyer god). The bisarjan (i would translate this not merely as immersion, but as 'bidding adieu') is also a part of the festival; just as death is a part of life. Whether we want it or not, humans will be born and they will die. All that remains is the essence of the life that an individual leaves behind.
Dashami of the Debipokkho had always been a little saddening. It meant the end of no-studies schedules while I was a student. It meant that all the gorgeous dresses will now be packed away. It meant that all the freedom of living off the street food is lost. It meant the end of incessant parties and doing nothing all day long. This year too, Dashami has saddened my heart and my soul. The voice that said 'Don't worry' has received bisarjan from all its worldly noise. Long after his song has ceased, souls like mine, which heard and saw him weave those brilliant patterns in life, will echo his songs. Who he is you may not know. But what he is, you will fathom if you think about an individual who inspires you, whom you love, who makes you smile and who encourages creation in any form. Imagine an artist you love. You will know. Imagine an individual you love. And you will know.
Image Courtesy © Subhaneil Chakrabarty