It is that time of the year. When the rains are over and the winter is yet to set in. When the leaves start turning gold and yet there are those fleecy white clouds float in the azure sky. There is that nip in the air that marks the advent of autumn in Bengal, India. The season for Bengal’s most popular festival- the Durga Puja (Worship of Goddess Durga).
Eindhoven Sharad Utsav (ESU) in co- operation with Stichting Bonghoven organised the greatest festival of the Bengali community, Durga Puja in Eindhoven from 12 October to 14 October 2018 at the Wijkscentrum Blixems. Stichting Bonghoven is a small group of few Bengali families who have come together to organize and celebrate not only Durga Puja, but also such other events to showcase their cultural diversity and actively carry forward the traditionally rich legacy of Bengal. It aims at promoting friendship, harmony and cultural exchange with other organizations and groups in the Netherlands.
What is Durga Puja?
Durga Puja ranks among the most popular festivals in India. It is orignally a four-day festival and is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated with immense fanfare and great enthusiasm. It is a significant festival of Bengal, India that has great social and cultural importance. For the Indians, especially Bengalis, it is much more than a devotional experience. It’s an intrinsic emotional bonding with their land, their people and their community.
The Highlights of the event
The grand event began on the 12th October with an Indian Food Festival which had various food stalls offering delicious cuisine from different parts of India. ‘It is like being in a carnival,’ said Miriam with enthusiasm. ‘I came mainly to taste some dishes like kebab and Chicken curry.’ The crowd on the opening day was roughly around 250 and they enjoyed good food and drinks. The cosy corridor inside the Blixems was transformed into a cozy culinary feast hall showcasing dishes from known Indian restaurants in Eindhoven and other cities in the Netherlands. It was the perfect opportunity to sample dishes from the stalls without their exorbitant price tags! There were also jewelleries and craft stalls along with music and dance performances.
The goal of the Eindhoven Sharad Utsav (ESU) team was to recreate the magic, the nostalgia, the euphoria that people enjoyed during Durga Puja in Bengal, India here in the Netherlands far away from home, in a comfy, homely atmosphere, and yet staying true to the authentic experience. As the president of Stichting Bonghoven Mr. Dipankar Roy said in his opening speech: ‘ There has been numerous meetings, hours of planning, buying and shopping, ordering items from India, months of frenzied preparation to bring forth this event succesfully.’
Culural performances and traditions of Bengal
Durga Puja in Bengal is a time for bonding with family and friends; for leaving behind one’s worries, if only for a while. The rigours of daily life are in some sort of suspe
nded animation during the four days of fun-filled cultural carnival. Routines, schedules, diets and deadlines all go for a toss. And the best of dance, oratory and music skills beg to be flaunted in the umpteen cultural events.
In the Eindhoven Durga Puja too there was plenty of fascinating cultural performances for all- Drama, Dances from various parts of India, Singing performances, Quiz and
Sit & Draw events for children, Dandiya (a folk dance from the state of Gujarat, India where men and women both can participate playing to the beats with colorful sticks wearing their ethnic attire), the much awaited traditional Dhunuchi Naach (a devotional dance performed holding an earthen pot filled with burning coconut husk and camphor) .
The event ended on Sunday 14th October with the ritual of ‘Sindur Khela, (Vermillion game) a Bengali Hindu tradition where married women smear each other with vermillion on the last day of the Durga Puja. ‘It feels ecstatic to be here, to feel the magical pull of traditions with which we were raised in Bengal,’ said a visitor who came from Den Haag to be a part of the festivities. ‘The event is well-managed, if I hadn’t come I would have missed it big time.’
Eindhoven Sharad Utsav (ESU) team in co- operation with Stichting Bonghoven looks back with pride and is excited to bring in the Durga Puja in Eindhoven next year and extends its good wishes to all the viewers (500+) who visited them to support their event for the three days and Eindhoven News who was their media partner all throughout..
For Eindhoven News: Chaitali Sengupta