BAGA and Pujari celebrate Durga Puja 2016
(Left) One of the many riveting dance and theatrical performances at Durga Puja programs (this one by BAGA). (Photo: Dr. Panchajanya Paul)
Durga Puja is the most important festival for Hindu Bengalis all over the world. Symbolizing the victory of good over evil, it celebrates goddess Durga who saved the gods by defeating the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Durga Puja became popular among Bengalis in Bengal during India’s freedom movement against the British Raj. Atlanta has several Bengali organizations which organize Durga Puja each year: BAGA, Pujari, Purbasha, Bangladeshi Pujo Association, and Atlanta Bengali Forum.
The Bengali Association of Greater Atlanta (BAGA) celebrated Durga Puja 2016 at Mountain View High School, Lawrenceville, Georgia from October 7 to October 9. The 3-day event dedicated to goddess Durga was filled with food, shopping, drama, music, and dance. This largest Durga Puja in greater Atlanta draws people from Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, and BAGA members work round the year in preparation.
Top artists from India include bands and famous singers (here, Lopamudra Mitra at BAGA).
(Photo: Dr. Panchajanya Paul)
BAGA tries to bring top artists from India each year to perform at Durga Puja. This year, the band Kaya entertained the audience with their folk-based songs on Friday October 7. The next evening, the famous Bengali singer Lopamudra Mitra enthralled the audience well past midnight. And finally, the biggest name, national prize winner for singing, Rupankar Bagchi captivated the audience on Sunday with his soulful singing. The cultural shows draw crowds that pack the auditorium, not minding standing or sitting on the floor to hear their favorite stars sing.
There were also shows by BAGA’s local artists who put forward their best performances. First was “Debi Bandana” under the musical direction of Apala Sen and dance choreography of Sridevi. BAGA’s young girls invoked Maa Durga through their semi-classical dance styles on Devi Vandana songs.
(Left) Local BAGA artists honor legendary singers. (Photo: Dr. Panchajanya Paul)
The humorous drama “Lakshmaner Shaktishel” was based on the play by Sukumar Ray. BAGA’s boys entertained the audiences with their energetic performances. BAGA cultural team guided by Nita Bose presented “RED,” an innovative fusion of contemporary dance styles. They portrayed the different emotions of the color red: sacrifice, danger, love, passion, anger, heat, sexuality, joy, and courage. There were riveting performances by Sagnika Mukherjee, Dona Paul, Kalyani Ray, students of Deeksha School of Performing Arts, and many others. The last event was a period drama directed by Ria Rakhit and based on Bankim Chandra’s epic 1884 novel Debi Chowdhurani, inspired by true historical events. The novel inspired Bengali women to join India’s freedom movement against British rule.
BAGA’s annual magazine Pratichi, edited by Soumitra Chattopadhaya, showcased the literary talent of BAGA members: poems, essays, short stories in both Bengali and English, and paintings as well. Notable contributions were from Kallol, Purnajyoti, Rabindra, Radhika, Raka, Deepak, Pranab, Deepashri, Tapan, Ranjit, Sheel Swapna, Parashar, DJ, Prabhat, Sashwat, Anil, and Allolika.
BAGA president Parimal Majumdar noted that BAGA has gained some 60 new members.
Pujari celebrated its 30th Durga Puja at Berkmar High School in Lilburn, with religious rites of worship as well as poetry, song, dance, and drama.
(Left) Another superb dance performance by Pujari. (Photo: Dr. Panchajanya Paul)
Pujari has talent—members gave riveting performances on all the three days of the festival. Pujari kids presented “Chotoder Ganer Tori,” directed by Mukta Kinta on music by Tapas Sarkar on October 7. Then came a program on poems and songs of Rabindranath Tagore called “Ananta Anandadhara,” by Deblina, Rinta, and Riya. There was a modern drama called “Phirey Dekho” by Banhi Nandi the next day, and Suparna Chaudhury presented “Dare to dream.” Star attraction for Saturday’s local program was “TOLLY2K,” featuring Atlanta Idol singers and kid prodigies who sang to popular Hindi and Bengali songs, celebrating Tollywood. The highlight for Sunday was the thought-provoking drama critiquing the education system in the past and its evolution to present times. Sudakshina and Anindya Mukherjee worked for three years on this project which involved research in India and the U.S. The final product “E Sob Syllabuse Nei” was a masterpiece which drew a standing ovation.
Pujari’s yearly magazine Anjali was edited by Baishali Dutta and contained poems, stories, essays, paintings, travelogue, and more in Bengali and English. There were contributions by Jaba, Arun, Mithu, Poorna, Sujay, Keya, Tapasya, Sambad. Bharati, Sutapa, Nachiketa, Kallol, Subhasree, Sikha, Samar, Mrinal, Sudakshina, Jharna, Deepali, DJ, Rajib, Rishima, Shayna, Anandita, Srinika, Sahana, Anik, and others.
Twenty-five new members were called on stage for welcoming gifts in a ceremony conducted by Prabir Nandi and Anusmita Sur.
Bengali families love to take their photos in front of the images of Maa Durga and her children, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Kartikeya (seen left: at Pujari). (Photo: Dr. Panchajanya Paul)
Friends and families at both events hugged each other and wished “Shuvo Bijoya” (auspicious victory), the Bengali greeting for the joyous Durga Puja.
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BAGA executive committee: Parimal Majumdar (president), Arindam Tapasyi (vice-president), Ayan Banerjee (vice-president), Kishore Chakraborty (vice-president), and Manas Chatterjee (treasurer). Parimal Majumdar said that BAGA has gained more than 60 new members.
BAGA cultural committee: Nita Bose, Papiya Dutta, Sonjukta Haldar, and Dimple Bose.
Board of Directors: Dharmajyoti Bhaumik , Partha Banerjee, Sabitry Paul, and Ananda Rakhit.
Pujari executive committee: Soumya Bhattacharyya (president), Sushanta Saha, Manas Dey, Swati Dey, Neel Chatterjee, and Bulbul Banik.
Pujari committee: Tumpa, Malobika, Agniswar, Baishali, Prabir, Nachiketa, Ujjal, Prosenjit, Suraaj, and Anusmita.
Board of Directors: Rahul Ray (chairperson), Abhijeet, Anindya, Vikram, Saikat, Kallol, and Ashok.
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