Date- Present day
Location- Hotel Park Inn, Berlin
I managed to get myself out of bed. Was there anything that I could do to get all that happiness back into my life? Will that color, joy and innocence come back ever again I thought. I managed to pick up the phone and made a call, home.
“Hey Amma, Happy Dusshera.” I managed to croak. It felt like there was a huge lump in my throat not letting me speak.
“Happy Dusshera to you too Kanna, what happened? You sound dull. Everything fine back there?” She asked with a note of panic in her voice.
“No Amma, I’m good, just woke up after a tiresome day. Feeling lazy, that’s it, missing home.” I said. Only mothers have the power to gauge your mood from a single word that you utter.
“Is it just that, or is there anything else that is bothering you?” She asked; the note of panic now replaced with a note of anxiety mingled with curiosity.
“I was just, lying in bed, thinking about how we used to celebrate the festival at home, how we visited our Kanaka Durga temple once. When I remembered all that, I just felt a little… Lost… Like I was missing out the happiness and pleasure of having a family to celebrate a festival with.
“I can understand how you feel son. It’s been three years since you came here for any festival. It’s hard to go on alone in life. You need people to share emotions with. Goals are important in life but, in order to achieve it, you must never let go of family, friends and the joy of being together in celebration.” She said. Always the wise words, I thought.
“Yes Amma, it took me this long to understand that. Now, I realize how much I’ve missed out in the process of chasing down targets in life. This will be an eye opener for me.” I said.
“I’m glad you realize that now. People, happiness and the sense of pleasure that you experience in the company of others is what gives festivals that air of magic. The sense of tranquility that you experience when you worship a force superior to you, makes the experience more complete and fulfilling. See if you can create that magic.” She said.
“I understand what you said Amma. I’ll try to create the magic you’ve mentioned. Thanks for making me feel so much better.” I said and cut off the phone, as a flood of new energy hit me like a tsunami wave striking the beach.
I strode into the hall and picked up the phone and called room service.
“Guten Morgen, Ich brauche ein Telefonbuch.” I said.
“Sie finden es in einer Minute, Sir.” The cheerful voice on the other end replied.
“Vielen Dank”, I said and put down the phone.
I picked up my phone and typed out a message to all of my friends. It went like this,
Today is a very important day. I guess most of you don’t remember why, but today we are going to celebrate. Celebrate together; celebrate the victory of good over evil. May sound a little crazy but I want all of you in my hotel by 10 AM sharp. All of you must dress in Indian clothes, the best you can find. You’ll miss out on an event if you don’t come, I promise.”
As I pressed the sent button, it started reaching the inboxes of more than 25 Indians, most of them my friends from graduation. Most of them were worried about my state of mind, but nevertheless, they were curious to find out the reason and agreed on coming.
In the meanwhile, room service got me the telephone directory that I requested for. I started browsing though, looking for the right telephone numbers. I found them soon enough and I started calling them.
“Yes, I need that photo, the biggest one you have. I also need the necessary things that we may require. Send in a priest if you can find one. Nine AM sharp, Hotel Park Inn.”
“Yes, a lunch for twenty five people. The best Indian dishes that you can find. I need them here by twelve PM sharp, Hotel Park Inn. “
Next, I was on the internet, looking for some information. Google proved as efficient as ever, giving me all the information that I needed. I was fishing out print outs. Now, I had all that I needed.
I looked at my wrist watch. It was eight thirty. I called in room service again and asked them to book the “Festsaal (Banquet hall)” that could accommodate some fifty people. I went inside the bathroom, took a shower and dressed myself in the “Kurta Pyjama” which has been lying at the bottom of my suitcase for such a long time now.
The things that I ordered came in by nine and the priest who came in wanted to know if it was a marriage or an engagement that he needed to perform. When I told him what I wanted, he was shocked and surprised.
“After all these years that I’ve lived in Berlin, this is the first time anyone has asked me to perform Durga Puja. I’ll do it with pleasure son. This is a very happy day for me.” He said, voice mixed with emotion and happiness.
People started pouring in at ten, All of them looking a little skeptical about what was on offer. As they saw the festive decoration, the priest and the huge portrait of Durga mata seated majestically on her tiger, they were shocked. As all of them settled down on the huge carpets on the floor, I went up and addressed my friends.
“Hey guys, as most of you don’t remember, I am going to remind you why this day is significant and what all of this is about. Today is Vijaya Dasami. The final day of the festival we celebrate as Navaratri. This day, we celebrate the victory of good over evil. This very day, Goddess Durga killed the demon king Mahishasura, bringing in peace and prosperity to the people of the world.”
As I was speaking, I was able to hear groans of recollection as it hit people. Everyone knew, but no one remembered.
“So today, we offer prayers to the great mother as a tribute to what she has done for us. We join in celebration, celebrating the victory of good over evil and the end of darkness that prevailed when evil reigns over the world.” I continued and took a pause.
Everyone was listening to me with rapt attention, hanging onto every word that I said.
“What does it mean today? Why did I call you here? I’ll explain. I woke up this morning to a message from my mom reminding me that today was a festival that was worth remembering. This reminder of hers sent me into a flood of memories that I had when I was younger, the joy and happiness associated with the celebration of festivals. I’m sure many of you must’ve had similar happy times with your families.”
I found many people lost in reflections and memories just like me when the news hit me. I found many people nodding their heads in consent.
“But, where has the spirit of celebration gone? Where has all the enthusiasm and reverence gone? What happened? We got so lost in building our careers and making a name for ourselves, we just ignored all these little things that gave us happiness and peace of mind. Today, when I realized all that we’ve missed over the last few years, I wanted to make up. I wanted to get that spirit of celebration back into our hearts. That is why we are here today. To celebrate our happiness, to worship the almighty in whose shadow we live. To pay tribute to the force that controls everything beyond our power.” I said, feeling emotional and charged as I ended my diatribe.
Everyone was silent for a long time as I handed them the sheets that had English translations of the mantras we had to chant in the course of the puja. The next hour, the room was filled with an air of holiness as everyone chanted the name of the god with a vigor and respect. The next hour was spent in listening to the stories of the goddess that every one of us had long forgotten. As everyone applied tikkas on their forehead and ate the holy Prasadam, the lunch arrived, there we were, one happy family. Everyone was smiling with content, serving food to one another, exchanging jokes and laughing together.
I looked out of the window at the busy Germans running around trying to catch up with the hectic life of today. I smiled to myself and muttered,
“Ich habe die Magie ( I created the magic), thanks mom”