Thursday, October 28

Bengalis in Europe gear up to usher in Durga Puja

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Bengali immigrants across the world are all set to usher in the four-day carnival with much fanfare.

In the foothills of the Swiss Alps, it will be a misty morning with the dew sitting pretty on the grass when the first sound of dhaak will resonate to signal the onset of the mostawaited event for Bengalis in Switzerland. Swisspuja, a non-profit socio-cultural body, has been organizing the Puja since 2004. True to its name, the Puja encompasses Bengalis and the local Swiss community as well. “We do our Puja on the exact dates and time, as per the almanac.

“Our ‘paanch chala pratima’ is sourced from Kumartuli,” said Aniruddha Ghosh from Zurich. Incidentally, they have a new idol this year. “We have flown in ‘Folk Foundation’ from Kolkata to kick-start the cultural programme on Panchami. Kids as young as two, to senior adults who haven’t performed in decades, will be invited to join them on stage,” said Pradip Nandi, another Bengali settled in Zurich.

If Swisspuja, supported by Stadt Zürich, Rietberg Museum and Incredible India! is gaining popularity every year, so is Bengalis in Denmark (BID) that follows the gender-equality ethos of Scandinavia and has priestesses performing its famous Puja. In its 6th year, BID introduces Kumari Puja. “The real worship starts from our home, from our mothers and daughters,” explained Maitreeye Kumar, priestess at BID. “This time we have also struck a crosscountry cultural collaboration among Bengalis of Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway,” Debarshi Mukherjee told TOI from Copenhagen. “The idea is to integrate Indians in northernEurope and Scandinavia,” said Mayukh Bandyopadhyay of Oslo Probasee Bangali.

Not too far is the Bengali Association of Gothenburg, that’s starting their first puja this year. Namrata Mukherjee, a Sweden resident, said, “We have been travelling to Copenhagen and other cities all the way from Gothenburg every year during the pujas. This time we have brought Ma home to our city.” Meanwhile, London Sharad Utsav (LSU), which has tied up with British Council Kolkata to promote Durga Puja in the UK, has set up a forum for the diaspora. Christened “Global Durga Puja” it has Wales Puja Committee of Cardiff, Indian Cultural Society, Cambridge, Midlands Bengali Association, Birmingham and Royal Berkshire Bengali Association, Slough working in tandem to hardsell Bengal’s Durga Puja as one of the biggest carnivals to attract travelers from abroad during the festive days.

Source: Times of India

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