Popular Bhoomi at Durga Puja Celebrations
The Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta (BAGA) celebrated its 26th Durga Puja on Oct 9, Oct 22-24, 2004. Attended by several hundred people, the event comprised of traditional Puja rituals, competitions for children, attractive stalls set up by local vendors and cultural programs. A delightful experience for all the participants, the event is being recounted as one of the best celebrations in the history of Bengalis in Atlanta.
The special attractions of the Puja were the beautiful new images of the goddesses and gods specially flown in from Kolkata by BAGA. Puja rituals included Mahalaya and Pitri-tarpan that marked the start of the festivities, followed by Mantras, Shlokas, Anjali, Arati, to celebrate the conclusion of Navratris and Baran, Sindur Khela and Bisarjan on Bijoya Dashami. Prasad and Bhog were part of every ritual. It was a time for all participants to dress in their finery, meet with friends, enjoy the food and festivities, and most importantly, feel the connectivity with the community that they miss living so far away from home and family.
BAGA organized several cultural programs that included songs, dance dramas, plays, and dances by local and guest artists. Some of the highlights of the cultural programs were Abanindranath Tagore's Khirer Putul, Rabindranath Tagore's dance drama Chitrangada, and a spectacular concert by the immensely popular music band from Bhoomi which had been flown from Kolkata to perform for the event.
Bhoomi defines its music as ?urban folk' and has been credited with reviving folk music in Bengal. As the name suggests, the music is close to the grassroots -- a fusion of modern, urban lyrics with Bangla rural folk music. The original simple lyrics, lilting melodies, is combined with a wide range of acoustic instruments that includes thumbas, bongos, drums, violin, flute, mandolin, banjo, khamak, matka, handi, guitar, castanets, tambourine, piano, ektara, tabla, etc. The result is an astounding medley of rhythm and energy that reaches out to audiences across generations, languages and cultures.
Atlanta Bengalis have rarely experienced anything as invigorating as the Bhoomi concert. The vigor and zest generated by the band had the audience tapping their feet, clapping and singing with every song. The band's music, primarily based in Bengali folk, fused with modern instrumentation, struck a chord in every heart, appealing to the young and old alike. The magical spell urged everyone on to sway to the rhythm of every number. The program concluded with the most popular number of the band, "Barandaye roddur".
A very special offering of every BAGA Puja in the recent years has been Pratichi: the West, an annual publication that is becoming more of a professional journal with each issue. The glossy magazine includes creative work specially written for BAGA by noted litterateurs like Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Suchitra Bhattacharya and Alolika Mukhopadhyay as well as by local talents.
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