Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | October 16, 2013

Durga Pujo

This year, we participated in Durgapujo.

As far as I am concerned, last I participated in Durgapujo was back in 1999. That year, a few of us from JNU decided almost suddenly to surprise our families in Calcutta and boarded an overcrowded Poorva from New Delhi. Since then I don’t recall attending Pujo in Calcutta (I may have had some presence in 2001, not sure).

Whilst I lived in Delhi, my friend Dipu literally dragged me out of my home to go to CR Park. However, I was a reluctant participant for various reasons.

When we moved to Auckland back in 2008, we ventured out to visit Auckland’s Durga Pujo. We were there for a wee bit and liked what we saw. However, it was not enough for me to shrug-off my reluctance and we virtually accepted the fact that we would only settle with hearing and reading about Pujo from our family back in Calcutta.

This year it was different though. We felt unusually homesick as Pujo approached. While a trip to India was out of question, we hardly made any effort here as well to reach out. As always, work and lack of rest served the perfect excuse.

However, I think for the first time even the Goddess wanted us to participate in the celebration. So by sheer stroke of good fortune at a work-function, we found enough reason to participate in the Durgapujo in Auckland this time. We grabbed the opportunity and I am glad that we did.

Pujo as I observed here was more bonhomie than opulence. It is conducted in a very homely manner and participation as well as contribution is voluntary. Unlike Pujo’s in Kolkata, you cannot afford to hire help here. Hence, everyone were contributing to the whole process – from chasing sponsors (far and few), to organising the materials needed for the Pujo, to cooking and serving food (five meals for as many as perhaps 200 people each day), to organising and participating in the quintessential Bengali cultural programme. It is indeed hard work and this time the weather gods were merciless, which made the efforts even harder.

Our contribution (largely participation in the cultural event and a briefly in the magazine) was really modest in comparison to everyone else.

The most interesting aspect of this Pujo was our little boy reciting a Bengali poem in front of a 100 odd crowd…with a smile. His first ever performance was the first performance of the day as well.

It was a weekend nicely spent and we look forward to more such.

By adopting an optimistic outlook, we actually surprised ourselves.





  1. Good for you, Tanmoy. I have had a very similar experience here in Calcutta this time, as I have written on my blog. It was very hard work here, too, but I was spared most of it on account of being a ‘dada’ who was visiting for the first time…:)

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