Bengalis in Berhampur celebrate Durga puja

Berhampur, Oct 4:Though they are far away from their homeland, the Bengali settlers in Odisha's Berhampur town, celebrate the annual Durga puja festival keeping their tradition intact. 

A group of Bengalis had started the Durga Puja for the first time in the silk city of Berhampur, about 81 years ago and they are continuing to celebrate the festival here with the similar pattern along with pomp and gaiety. 

"The Durga Puja is an integral part of the Bengali people. They celebrate the festival of autumn wherever they reside," said Sushant Ghosh, the president of the Adi Durga Puja Committee. The ritual stared from Mahasasthi and will be continued till Dusshera. 

"As we had started the Durga Puja in the town for the first time, we named it as the Adi(first) Durga Puja," said Sarajit Sarkar, an elderly member of the Bengali community here. The first Durga Puja was started by some Bengali employees working in the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway at railway station area here in 1933. 

The Bengalis, however, established a permanent pandal at Chatterjee lane, near Old Bus Stand to celebrate the Durga Puja. 

"We are celebrating the Durga Puja and other rituals since 1998 in the pandal," said Ashok Kumar Jana, a member of puja committee. "Not only the Bengali families, but other people including other faiths gathered here during the puja period," said Aurabinda Sarkar. 

It's also an occasion to get together of Bengali families in the town. About 300 Bengali families are living in the town. Some other families are here as they are working in several organizations, including defence, railway, banks and telecom. They also come to participate and celebrate the puja, said Ghose. 

"Even though we are celebrating the Durga Puja for last 81 years, we have been adopting the age old Bengali culture of Pujo," said Kalyani Dev. 

The priests, cooks and the artists to make the idol were brought from West Bengal. "Our aim is to keep alive the Bengali tradition while celebrating the Durga Puja here," said Abhijit Kundu. 

During the festive period, the children from the community perform cultural programmes. Baul Sangeet and the songs dedicated to Maa Durga were performed by the children, said Sibani Ray.