Kolkatans spending their Puja break in the Hills will not miss the festivities this year. The GJM on Wednesday inaugurated a nine-day Durja Puja at Chowrasta with the “ghat-stapna” ritual.
In the Hills, Durga Puja started a day after Mahalaya (October 8) and will go on till Maha Navami (October 17). On Saptami (October 16), the “phulpati” (collecting flowers from different temples in a palanquin and offering it in the primary Puja venue), also known as “Sobha Yatra”, will be observed. This will be followed by “maar” (sacrifice) on October 18 and the event will ultimately culminate in ‘Dasai’ the next day. On ‘Dasai’, families visit their elders with gifts and delicacies to seek their blessing.
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Subash Ghising used to organize Durga Puja, but he stopped it after raking up the sixth schedule issue. The GJM, under Bimal Gurung did not organize the Puja, even though local residents — especially the Bengali community of the Hills — have been organizing it over the years. However, with peace returning after the 104-day statehood agitation, the GJM, now under Binoy Tamang, has taken the decision to organize Durga Puja, in a bid to cater to the tourist flow from the plains.
“We welcome the tourists. They must come and enjoy Puja in the Hills. Last year, we could not organize it due to the political turmoil. But this year we have a grand programme lined up,” Tamang said.
A 12ft idol has been brought from Siliguri’s Kumartuli and installed in the open air theatre at Chowrasta. “We want the tourists to feel like they are home. We have not erected pandals like in the cities, but will conduct the Puja according to tradition. We have even clothed the Goddess in a ‘chowbandi-choli’ (Nepali dress),” said GJM spokesperson Suraj Sharma, who is also a member of the puja committee.
On all nine days, the committee will offer bhog to devotees and the general public, which will be followed by prayer and bhajan sessions. “We will also have cultural programmes in the evening where local artists will perform,” Sharma said. The thoroughfare from Keventer’s to Chowrasta, and the trees around the popular promenade, have been decked-up with coloured lights to give the event a festive feeling.
The Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall in Darjeeling, the Kalimpong Milan Sangha in Kalimpong and the Raj Rajeshwari Hall in Kurseong are also planning grand celebrations this year.
Source: Times of India