An afternoon boat ride followed by a stroll in the lanes of north Kolkata and a cultural programme left almost the entire consular crop of the city enthralled on Sunday.
US consul general Patricia Hoffman was wowed by the scale of preparation for Durga Puja, while her colleague Jonathan Ward played a guide as this will be his fourth time being a part of the festival in the city. Dressed in a blue kurtaand white pyjama, the consul general of Japan — Masayuki Taga — played dhakbefore the trip began.
“I came to Kolkata towards the end of the Puja last year. I was blown by the scale of celebrations and participation of people irrespective of faith. There is no comparison to this festival, perhaps the Rio carnival? But Durga Puja is grander in terms of artistic display and fusion of rituals. Not many abroad know of this festival. Neither did I. But I’m looking forward to it,” said Dr Michael Feiner, German consul general.
“Durga Puja is perhaps the world’s biggest festival, yet many don’t know about it. Thus, we arrange this trip annually,” said Gautam De, regional director, Indian Council for Cultural Relations. “People across the world should know how the entire city transforms magically,” said Somnath Pyne, secretary of Freed, an NGO working for underprivileged.
It was late afternoon when the diplomats reached Kumartuli. British deputy high commissioner Bruce Bucknell, another Durga Puja veteran, checked whether the clay idols were dry and ready for paint.
At the end of the trip, the diplomats enjoyed a cultural show at Lohia Matri Sadan on Chitpore Road.
Source: Times of India