Monday, 30th October 2017

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Artist’s Durga debut for Canada puja

This weekend, Durga Puja is breaking new ground with Bengalis of Mississauga, the sixth largest city of Canada, worshipping the goddess

By Sudeshna Banerjee
  • Published 19.10.15
The fibre glass idol crafted by Subhomita Dinda which is being worshipped in Mississauga. (Bishwarup Dutta)

This weekend, Durga Puja is breaking new ground with Bengalis of Mississauga, the sixth largest city of Canada, worshipping the goddess.

The first edition of the puja is being hosted at the initiative of 20-odd families who found the 50km drive to Toronto a deterrent to soaking in the festive spirit. “There are two pujas in Toronto but none in our Mississauga-Oakville-Burlington region. If we drive to any of those pujas, we can stay for barely half an hour in the evening. Going back the next day is also quite taxing. So we decided to start a puja in our area,” Sanchita Chakraborty, one of the organisers, told Metro over the phone from Canada.

A banquet hall has been hired where Durga is being worshipped over the weekend. “We do not have Puja holiday here so we are having to condense the four days of rituals into two and do it ahead of the prescribed period,” she said.

But they are going by the book in every other way. “We have got a dhak from a local banker who had one imported when he started a Saraswati puja. He is playing it himself. The priest is a Bangladeshi Brahmin who is a financial consultant by profession,” Chakraborty said.

An idol has been imported from Calcutta, with the organisers coaxing artist Subhomita Dinda into crafting her first Durga. Subhomita created a beautiful ekchala fibre glass image which looks as if hewn from black stone. Standing at a height of 6ft, it is also much bigger than the standard size of idols exported from Calcutta. “It took me two months to create. I have modelled it on temple sculpture,” said the Rabindra Bharati University pass-out who has refused payment for her maiden venture.

Other than inviting an artiste from Calcutta, Subhankar Debnath, who had participated in Zee Bangla’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, the organisers are hosting a Bollywood night. “We need to involve the youth in the puja. They won’t come to hear or see their parents sing and dance. What better way to do it than have a dash of Bollywood? There will also be a fashion show,” said Chakraborty.

The Bollywood dance item is being performed by university students. Leading the team called Rang Revolutions is Aneesha Ghosh, a pre-medical student of McMaster University. “The rest in my team are south Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Spanish and white Canadians. I am so excited to expose my friends to my native culture,” said Ghosh, who left Calcutta at the age of three. They are performing latest hits like Selfie le le from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sun Sathiya from ABCD 2 and Saree ke Fall Sa from R…Rajkumar. “They have seen the songs on YouTube.”

Mississauga is a white-dominated area. “There is a lot of curiosity among our neighbours about the event. But it is we who are the most eager to create a corner of Calcutta in Canada,” smiled Chakraborty, who left the city 25 years ago and has never been back for Puja since.