Dhols, Dhaks and Sindhur Khel Part of Durga Puja in Atlanta
While a faction of the community in Atlanta attending garga-raas, another faction was Maa Durga's victory in vanquishing evil in the form of Mahishasur. Atlanta Bengali Forum (ABF), BAGA and Pujari of Atlanta all celebrated Durga Puja with great pomp and show.
The sounds of dhaks and dhols, artis, bisarjan and sindhur kela were part of the celebrations along with great food, competitions and vendors selling their wares. Nostalgic moments were the natural consequence of the events in the city. Durga Puja is the biggest celebration for Bengalis worldwide. In all three events, Maa Durga murtis were seen along with idols of Lakshmi, Saraswati, Karthik and Ganesh.
ABF had a unique conch competition for women, BAGA presented famous artists from Kolkata and Pujari covered the whole spectrum in cultural performances. All three events were well attended by local Bengalis and devotees from neighboring states. Here is a look at how each association celebrated Durga Puja.
ABF's event covered by Gargi Mukherjee, was held at Holcomb Bridge Middle School, with a new elegant idol of Durga from India over two days. The highlights of the function were the performances by the young children who dressed in adorable saris and danced to Bengali and Hindi songs. A special drawing contest was arranged for young artists. On the second day, everyone gathered once more to pay his or her last respects and pray before Ma Durga was returned home with her children. As she left, women offered her sindoor and then painted each other with the sacred red powder, which symbolizes their marriage.
BAGA f�ted the twenty-eighth year of its biggest annual celebration, the Durga Puja, on September 29th, 30th and October 1st, 2006, at Shamrock Middle School in Decatur. About eight hundred participants joined this year's puja celebrations.
In addition to a drawing competition for children, the first segment of cultural programs were presented by local artists and a guest artist, Ms. Nibedita Chatterjee, from Ohio,. The finale of this part of the program was a well-choreographed fusion program by local talents that blended Indian mythology and modern-day rendition of "Shiv" stotras.
After the evening arati and dinner, two famous artists from Kolkata, Mr. Shibaji Chatterjee and his wife, a famous singer on her own merit, Mrs. Arundhati Home Chowdhury enthralled the audience with their renditions of old and new Bengali songs. On the last day of the celebration, when the symbolic puja ritual of bisarjan or immersion was over, a typical Bengalee tradition of "sindur-khela" was initiated.
The festivities concluded with the final segment of the cultural program where another famous Bengali singer from Kolkata, Mr. Raghab Chatterjee, performed. Groups of people, young and old alike, danced on the floor to some of his tunes. Local businesses set up stalls on all three days selling several items. "Pratichi - The West", BAGA's annual literary publication, was distributed to all the attendees. It contained articles from well-known writers from India in the fields of literature, movies, and sports as well as contributions from local talents.
Finally Pujari of Atlanta organized a gala celebration of Durga Puja this year during the weekend of September 30th and October1st,���2006 at Berkmar High School, Lilburn as reported by Sutapa Datta..
Swagata Bose, Rima Saha, Chandana Bhattacharyya, Paromita Ghosh, Mukta Saha and others worked for weeks to create a tastefully decorated ambience for Maa Durga. Pujari's special attraction was a rare musical extravaganza with "Nachiketa & Band" giving a concert of great sensational success on Sunday, October 1st.
A dance performance by Rupa Bhaumik and group, local kids performing Tagore's dance drama- Pujarini, directed by Sutapa Das were highlights. Choreographers Soma Datta, Jaba Chaudhury and Sutapa Das worked hard for the enormous success of the show. Music and song were directed by Amitava Sen and Debasree Dutta respectively. Other captivating dance performances like the Pujar Arghya and Bristi Tomake Dilam directed by Bonhi Nandi were well appreciated.
Pujari was honored to have Jnanbrata Bhattacharya, eminent singer and student of renowned Rabindrasengeet legend Debabrata Biswas, on stage. Richar Sarkar conducted yet another absorbing program titled, "Bhalo Lagar Gaan", which was performed by Pujari's gifted choir consisting of Prabir Bhattachayya, Tirthankar Dasgupta, Bonhi Nandi, Rahul Ray, Debasree Dutta and Santanu Kar.
A hilarious drama called, "Boudir Biye", directed by Shyamali Das, was among the most awaited program of this year's Durga Puja celebration. Pujari invited Indrani Ganguly from Alabama for Bangla Songs and Lolita Das from North Carolina for dance presentations. My Piano Works by Tanisha Ghosh was equally enjoyed.
The atmosphere and the entertainment at all three locations left the devotees feeling as if they were home in Kolkata for Durga Pooja.
~ Reporting by Gargi Mukherjee, Sutapa Datta and BAGA Association
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