Sindur Khela - A Tinge of Vermillion to Spread the Word Called "Love"
- by Sumana Bhattacharya
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरी नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते ।१।
सृष्टिस्थितिविनाशानां शक्तिभूते सनातनि ।
गुणाश्रय गुणमये नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते ।२।
सर्वस्यार्तिहरे देवी नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते ।३।
जय नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते,
जय नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते ।
जय नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते,
जय नारायणि नमोSस्तु ते ।।
“Shakti” that is what Durga symbolizes. She embarks the celebration by overpowering good over evil. But for the bongs, bongos rather bengalis, this is a moment of celebration as it also marks the homecoming of Goddess Durga to her maternal home. Just as a married woman seeks all attention as she arrives at her parent's house after marriage with her children - these five days from Shashti to Dashami has equal value in our life.
All five days are important but what we enjoy the most is Sindur Khela that is observed on Dashami.
However, why we speak about a particular event called Sindur Khela much in the newspapers, articles, blogs…. and even tabloids of various US and UK daily writes notes on it? The ritual is observed on Dashami, the last day of Durga Puja and the womenfolk from every house will be present in the pandals or in the community halls to play each other with vermillion. They will be particularly clad in white and red color combination sarees.
This custom traditionally meant for married women who believe this game to bring good luck and charm to their husbands and shower long life. All those petty quarrels or family tiffs should be put to an end that is what sindur khela stands for. However, this pomp and grandeur always marked that the day should be observed by only married women. Usually dressed in white sarees with red borders, women first perform Devi Baran ( a ritual to bid farewell to the Goddess.) One by one, they perform arati, apply sindoor on the forehead and feet of the Goddess. Once it is done, they apply sindoor on each other’s forehead and the parting of their hair, followed by shankha, pola and noa (three bangles, made of conch shells, red corals, and iron, that signify Bengali women’s marital status). They are also supposed to apply sindoor on the feet of the older women among them. Next, they playfully and carefully smear sindoor on each other faces.
No more it is a ritual for married women it is open to all
However, the norms have started to change. It is no longer restricted as a ritual observed by the married women. People anywhere whether in India or in USA or UK, no longer it is a game for the married women alone to enjoy. After a recent campaign, #NoConditionsApply in 2017 by Calcutta Times this campaign asked a very pertinent question if Maa Durga does not differentiate between her married and unmarried girls, prostitute or an unmarried mother, divorcee or widow, who are we do raise eyebrows and have an objection to anyone playing “Sindur Khela”.
At Austin, almost every year we try to make Sindur Khela an open event that not just women but even the men and people from all different communities do take part. We urge people to forget all the differences and take part in this event wholeheartedly. We feel this is as a community mela or a milan utsav where people from various socio-economic, socio-political and secular background get a chance to color each others life at least once.
If mother stands for her sons and daughter and wants to eradicate all eil by killing the mahishashur, then it is high time when we should kill the demon that is deep embedded in the society. We should unite and held ourselves high and bust out all differences to kill all these religious demons within the society.