• "I see what you don’t. Write about things least spoken of. Speak less, listen more. Watch less, observe more. Know more by learning more. Attach less, detach more. Be seen less, remembered more. And believe that less is, in fact, more."
  • "Today, organs can get replaced but no one has found a replacement for lost trust, abandoned hearts, shattered souls and tears that flowed. Imagine that!"
  • "Life is not a straight line. It is a circle. See you a-round!"
  • If you do not wish to cross the bridge when you get to it go ahead, take a boat... either way, cross over, you will have to."

Oct 11 2013

Durga Puja: Dhaak Makes My Heart Go ‘Dhak’!

Photographer: Anupama Chatterjee, West Bengal, India

‘Goddess Durga’; Photographer: Anupama Chatterjee, West Bengal, India (2013)

 Dhaak Makes My Heart Go ‘Dhak’

October 2012, this time last year, I was in Mumbai, India. Durga Puja (Goddess Durga’s worship) was in full swing. The sight of beautiful Bengali women dressed in their best, their foreheads adorned with big red ‘Bindis’ reminded me of Goddess Durga herself.

Every woman a part of Her and She a part of each one of us… is a magical thought, an exhilarating sense of closeness to something Higher and superior.

Driving past the Kali bari (Temple) close to my home, I was intrigued by the crowd in the evenings. What truly caught my attention though, was the sound of those beating drums… Oh!

‘Dhaak’ is a membranophone instrument from India. Drumbeats, I learnt, are an integral part of the festivities of Durga Puja (worship).

One evening, my close friend Anupama (a delightful and adorable Bengali) accompanied me to the evening Aarti (ritual of worship) at the Kali Bari. This was the first time my heartbeat met the beats of the Dhaak… and my heart went Dhak! It was love at first beat.

(‘Dhaak’: the drums / ‘Dhak’: Hindi word for the sound of a heartbeat)

'Dhaak': The Drums; Photographer: Anupama Chatterjee

‘Dhaak’: The Drums; Photographer: Anupama Chatterjee, India (2013)

As the maddening beats of the Dhaak filled the air, my eyes simply closed… as if it was the most natural thing to do. It is amazing how you can feel transported into a mesmerised world with the way these drums beat.

The beats seemed to tune me into a channel of meditation. Whoever said you can only meditate to silence, soothing music or the sound of gurgling water… sadly believes in stereotypes and has certainly not experienced the magic of the Dhaak in a Durga Puja.

During the Aarti, the entire space of worship reverberates with a mixture of the sounds of the Dhaak, one’s own heartbeat and the humming you hear from people around you as they breathe the song of worship.

This magical mixture of sounds creates an aura of peace in a buzzing vibrancy.

I have been a part of several Pujas (rituals of worship) in my lifetime, however, what set this one apart for me, was the Dhaak!

As the thrilling beats of the Dhaak gained momentum, my eyes shut tighter and I felt goose bumps all over me… the kind you feel when you walk out the door into the arms of a chilling yet inviting winter evening.

I felt relaxed… so tremendously calm, the way drinking chilled water feels, as it slides down your throat on a brutally hot day.

I felt ONE… with the entire group of people surrounding me… we were not separate… in those beautiful few moments, every drop became a part of the ocean, every sound became ONE humming and every air molecule carried the echo of oneness.

As the beats gained further momentum and got louder… I felt like I was flying… my eyes still closed… I was lost… and did not want to be found.

The beats reached my core; I could feel the vibrations pass through me, into me, waking up every single pore. With my eyes closed, lost in a meditative state, I felt maddeningly awake and alive.

Dhak! Dhak! Dhak! Every heartbeat so loud, so clear, the intoxicating mixture of sounds completely took over my mind. Oh I was lost… so lost… and did not want to be found.

And then…came the ululation… a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound produced by moving the tongue rapidly, back and forth, repetitively in the mouth while producing a sound with a trilling quality.

Bengalis call it ‘ulu-uli’ and they use this during weddings and other festivals. It is mostly used in West Bengal than other places in India.

This trilling sound just turned up the volume of the entire ‘magical mixture of sounds’ that I was experiencing and took it to a level of divine intensity.

By this time my soul was dancing… whirling, twirling, delightfully swirling. I may have been physically standing next to Anupama but my mind… Oh! I was somewhere else… and did not want to be found.

This year, Anu sent me photographs you see in this post and an audio recording of the Dhaak … for she is the only one who saw a glimpse of how deeply I was moved by the entire experience.

Audio Of ‘Dhaak’: The Drums, October 2013, Durga Puja, West Bengal, India

Every time Anupama participates in the Aarti in India this month, she messages me, sends me pictures and thinks of me. Through this very heartwarming gesture of hers… I participate in the Durga Aarti sitting 8000 miles away.

Thank You Anu… only you could have been so thoughtful. Love you!

If you are in India during the auspicious festivities of Durga Puja,
Please do participate and experience the high that I did…
The exhilaration that I felt…
One that I will never forget…
How the Dhaak made my heart go ‘Dhak’!!

Happy Durga Pujo!!

©Maulshri Rajdhan

Facebook: Maulshri Shukla Rajdhan

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