Inauguration of the spirit of Durga Puja, the Netherlands
Can you think of Durga Puja without Bengali tea, Singara (samosa), pathar mangsho (mutton) or Polao?
No, we can not. This is why Indians who are not residents of the Netherlands feel that something is wrong with their celebrations. During Puja, their food will be cooked with canned meat, and the exotic Bengali delicacy Malaikari will be made from shrimp (instead of the local shrimp from the bodies of water in and around Kolkata).
As Covid-19 ravaged Europe last year, Anandadhara, a Bengali organization, managed to fly a large Durga idol of Kumartuli from Kolkata. Unlike Calcutta where pandals are erected in every locality, in Amsterdam Anandadhara celebrates in a community house.
Masks are no longer mandatory in the Netherlands, as advised by the government. But Anandadhara urged visitors from Monday to enter the room with masks and a Covid vaccination certificate. In addition to other international vaccines, Covishield is licensed for Indians currently touring the Netherlands. The five days of Durga Puja, the biggest Bengali festival, would begin on Monday with Mahasasthi. In Kolkata, the festivals span almost seven days. But in the Netherlands, the community of a few hundred Bengalis, who are mainly employed in the IT and teaching professions, would limit it to just four days. Vijayadashami would be the fifth day the Puja would end.
Said Sudipta Laskar, an IT professional, “Our Durga Puja is in the fifth grade. As always, this time too, there will be various cultural programs. The main attractions would be dances, songs, recitations, sitting contests for children, etc. There is also a beauty contest, music, dance competitions for adults. The most striking attraction will be “Pujor Tilottama” which is essentially a selfie contest.
Dipanwita Mukherjee and Dolly Devi, who are in charge of the decorations, said the Puja decoration will be thematic. “And this time, the medieval fortress theme will surpass the ‘Banedibari Building’ (traditional Bengali house) theme of 2017 or the ‘Wild West Pagoda’ of 2019,” Dipanwita said.