Homecoming literally means returning home. But I feel there are several more emotions attached to that word like the joy and excitement you feel when the day of your return home draws near, or when your mind gets filled with memories of the good times you had with your siblings - these are feelings or emotions which fill my mind when I hear the word 'homecoming'.
Durga Puja is the biggest festival of Kolkata. Every year thousands of people come to Kolkata to experience this beautiful festival. What we sometimes do not notice is that during the puja holidays many people also leave Kolkata to visit their hometown and villages to be with their loved ones. So I think Durga Puja can also be called the ‘FESTIVAL OF HOMECOMING’.
By Homecoming I am not just referring to Bengalis coming home to Kolkata during pujas. During the puja there is a holiday of nearly 7 days. There are many people who work in different states and are not able to take their family with them. They try to use this holiday to not only enjoy time with their families, but also to make memories they can cherish when they are away. There are many who come back to their newborns. It is such a joyful occasion for them.
Coming back to a welcoming family, having a homemade meal after a long time made by your mom specially for you (I personally feel a meal made by your mom is the best), these are feelings which cannot be expressed in words. This is not specific to just Bengalis but to people all over the world. The feeling is the same everywhere, irrespective of the state or culture you belong to. Your home and family will always occupy a special place in your heart.
To better understand the meaning of Homecoming, watch the short film, “DEBI“. It is a bengali short film by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. This film is allabout a daughter’s homecoming after ages. Debi tells a tale of how celebrations can bring family members together. It truly captures the essence of homecoming.
I myself have never been away from Kolkata for studies but I can’t imagine being anywhere other than Kolkata during the Pujas. Every year I see lots of people who take their parents for pandal hopping or elder brothers and sisters taking their siblings out for a day of fun. I myself have both brothers and sisters and every year we spend each day of the Puja together. We make it a point to meet in the evening at the same neighbourhood Puja premises. This is the kind of fun and togetherness which you miss out if you are away from your dear ones.
I feel that someday even if I have to go abroad or to some other states for work, during the Pujas I will always try to come back home to my family.
Just like Goddess Durga returns to her parents’ home so do a lot of people throughout the world. So this year when we go for pandal hopping we should keep an eye out for Durga Pujas at home as it is there you can really witness the true spirit of homecoming.