Durga Puja makeshift temple, built with millions of dollars. In Calcutta, where the poor sleep on the street, and their children go hungry.
(Photo courtesy: Financial Express. For one-time, non-profit, educational use only.)
In the name of worshiping Goddess Durga the Demon Slayer, corporate business-sponsored grandiose, glitzy events are doing precisely what Hinduism teaches us not to do. The organizers of these community celebrations in the city of Calcutta — often political leaders and their henchmen — are spending millions for fun and festivity, fighting for competitive awards, getting more political mileage and media glare, coercing ordinary people to pay for it, and making lives miserable for countless people who do not want to be a part of it.
Goddess Durga is not happy with them. In fact, she is angry.
Let the supreme Goddess’ wrath befall on these demons.
I am aghast at this completely unethical, morally bankrupt, scandalous use of money — in millions (taxed or untaxed) — in a place where countless people do not have enough to eat. They sleep in the street, can’t afford to send their children to school, or buy them a nice shirt at this festive time of the year.
This is the same place where recent floods caused havoc, and made countless poor people homeless. This year in particular, with the scary climate change, the floods across India and Bengal destroyed many lives.
This is the same place where women are victims of sexual violence on a daily basis.
I have no political power, and I live in New York, USA. But I grew up in Calcutta, and I love the city and its sane, intelligent people. I have talked to many people in the past few days. They are all aghast too. But they have no political power, either, and therefore fear for their lives. The entire country of India — my motherland — has now fallen to the rules of religious fanaticism, hate, violence, corruption, misogyny, and mafia.
I do not know exactly how much money is spent on these extravagant, lavish festivities. I have heard that one deity of the goddess is entirely adorned with real gold ornaments costing Indian rupees 6.5 crores, which is one million U.S. dollars.
One millions U.S. dollars for a four or five-day festivity!
Only one of these grandiose events — the money used for it — could save thousands of children from hunger, diseases, or death. The money could educate school and college children against sexual violence, and institute special programs for saving women from rape and molestation.
Only one such festivity — the cost of it — could do so, so much more.
The makeshift temple I showed above is another example of this grotesque extravagance. This temple will come down in four or five days too!
There is no media outrage, no government outcry, no investigation, no meaningful audit, no income tax raids — things that a clean government (promised by both India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, and by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee) must do, or support. In fact, some of the biggest puja organizers are their party stalwarts.
Through this little blog of mine, I am drawing attention of people everywhere — people who feel such misuse of money and abuse of power are outrageous and criminal, and must be stopped at any cost.
This is no religion. This is not Hinduism. This is pure and simple, total moral degeneration. I invoke Goddess Durga to bring the perpetrators curse. May her wrath burn them.
Slay these morally depraved, dishonest, cruel demons, O Mother. Save our yearning for sanity and humanity from a total, irreversible destruction.
Brooklyn, New York
A real, religious, ordinary peoples’ Durga Puja in West Bengal. Priest invoking the Goddess.
Photography of village home puja: Pallabi Pal.