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Prabasi Celebrates Durga Puja

Chitra Parayath

Durga Puja, takes place in the after-rain blossoming autumn. The celebration marks the arrival of Goddess Durga with her two sons (Ganesh, the God of success, and Kartick, the God of grace) and two daughters (Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and Saraswati, the Goddess of learning) from her in-laws' to her parents' -- from the Himalayas to the earth -- to conquer evil and bring peace on earth.

Streets of Calcutta are lit up, people put on new clothes, and splendid temporary monuments called "pandals" are built in various shapes and sizes that are decorated to house the Goddess and her four children for the four days of their stay. Although a religious festival to begin with, the Durga Puja, celebrated with great aplomb, is more of a social event these days. Friends meet, enjoy the bhog together and catch up on news and gossip.

Here, so far away from home, Bengalis strive to keep their traditions alive. Around 400 people gathered in the Maynard High School where Prabasi of New England, in keeping with years of tradition, celebrated Durga Puja on October 17 and 18.

Some of the Bengalis attending confessed that the merely hearing Bengali spoken all around infused a nostalgic thrill in them while a young mother said that she brought her children around to the Puja everyday so that they would get a dose of Bangla culture.

“I hope they continue to do this every year, even after they grow up – in this country,” she added wistfully while her daughter, clad in a tiny sari tugged at her mother’s pallu to drag her off to see the Puja.


Volunteers bustled about looking harried but happy, kids of all ages ran around the auditorium, their parents engaged in conversation let them be. The rustling of rich silk saris on the ladies and the starched kurta Pajamas on the men were matched with the sweet sound of the conch. The main puja comprised ‘arti’, ‘pushpanjali’, ‘shanti dol’ and ‘shastango pronam’ after which the patrons enjoyed proshad and a delicious bhog of Khichudi and Mishti. Prabasi volunteers had stayed up two nights to prepare the feast that was enjoyed by about 600 people.

Bengalis can overwhelm you with their charm and hospitality and this year too, the warm embrace of the Bengali community touched us.

On Sunday, October 24th, Prabasi of New England will celebrate Bijoya at the Maynard High School.  The Bijoya celebration will be followed by a special performance by Srikanta Acharya & Troupe.



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Photos Courtesy : Ritaban Chatterjee

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