What is your Puja Bhakti Scorecard?

Since the Durga Puja got over about a month back, it is time to reflect back on the good five days that went by, and calculate how many Bhakti points you have collected. These are redeemable for Punya credit, of course, when you reach heaven. Also, by attending the Durga Puja, you have already guaranteed yourself a spot in heaven - so don't worry about the Bhakti points expiring or something like that.

First up, your knowledge of the Devi Stotra: "Sarva Mangala Mangalye...". See, it isn't just enough that you should know the verse by heart. Others also need to know that you know, especially the priest who is leading the chant. So if you can go ahead of others while they are mimicking whatever way the Purohit chants, especially by creating a generous high-pitched noise when others are trying to hear what the Purohit says, you get one Bhakti point each time. Oh, by the way, grant yourself a bonus point if you were able to (very audibly) "Tsch-tsch" when someone mis-pronounced some word. Those illiterate desis, I tell you!

Second, were you able to grab enough flowers during the Pushpanjali? Let everyone else fend for themselves. You know that this one is the jackpot... each petal of flower counts as one whole Bhakti point! So I am hoping that you grabbed enough flowers when the basket passed by for three rounds of offering. Your disappointment is understandable when you realized that it was just one round of flower offering... it was like finishing an XBox game of WWII with more than 2/3rds of your ammo left! Oh, and definitely award yourself bonus points if you brought your own flowers and gently pointed towards the common basket when someone asked for a little share from your pot! Those freeloaders, I tell you!

Next, (and very important), how much gold were you wearing? Each carat equals one point, and if they weren't visible then sorry, they don't count. You must have made sure that the most silky gorgeous saree decorated your flabby fine body while you pushed your way through the crowds. Ahh the maddening joy of the cacophony of scents - overdoses of perfume and stinking sweat pouring as you jostled past the idle aunties and oldies! Bonus points in this round can be earned if you were able to go up on the altar and hang on for that extra second while the whole mandap full of people stared at you. The poor you had to make up your own personal fashion ramp! Those penurious organizers, I tell you!

Fourth, did you get enough time with the aarti lamps? Here's how you earn points in this round: you have to execute a perfect scowl when others hog the lamp and take their own sweet time in swinging the lamp in front of the Devi. Make sure your body language along with the subtle shoving and pushing disturbs that lady who is doing the aarti at any given time. And when your turn comes, remember to face the five deities in front of you five times each and execute a perfect circle. One full swing = one point. Bonus points are easy to make... just return an evil scowl to those standing in line behind you just after you are done with your own Puja. Those impatient slobs, I tell you!

Finally, how active was your hubby during the whole process? This matters the most. The bigger the lens of his DSLR camera, the better. Different angles, once while you are holding the lamp in your hand, once without - he must have captured each moment and even asked you stop and pose for a second. If you had a hubby who did not stand in front of at least two other cameras and stared down two organizers in his right to enter forbidden space to click your pics - you have a nobody on your hands. Definitely, definitely triple check all the photos right after each shoot on the spot, and re-take anything that makes you look fat. Admittedly, your hubby has to earn his right to the prasad. Bonus points? Oh that should be self-evident! Get someone else's hubby to take a picture of you two juxtaposed with the deity while his wife looks on flabbergasted. Oh the joy of a picture perfect Puja album on Facebook, I tell you!

:)

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