Bengalis of Berhampur organising Durga Puja for 82 years now

Berhampur: Away from their homeland, the Bengali settlers in this Silk City of Odisha have kept alive their tradition of organising community Durga pujas.

They have been celebrating Durga Puja for the last 82 years. The first Durga Puja was started by some Bengali employees in the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway at the railway station area here in 1933, claimed an elderly Bengali resident Surojit Sarkar.

“As we had started the Durga Puja in the town for the first time, we had named it as the Adi (first) Durga Puja,” Sarkar said.

According to Sushant Ghosh, president, Adi Durga Puja Committee, the Bengalis 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,” Ashok Kumar Jana, a member of the puja committee, said.

Besides the Bengali families, people of other communities too gathered here during the puja period,” added Sibani Roy, general secretary of the committee.

She said that Durga Puja was an occasion for the get-together of Bengali families residing in the town. Around 350 Bengali families are in the town.

“Even though we are celebrating Durga Puja for last 82 years, we are not alienated from Bengali culture. The priests, cooks and the artists to make the idol have brought from West Bengal. Our aim is to keep alive the Bengali tradition while celebrating the Durga Puja,” added Jana.

During the festive period, children from the community are performing cultural programmes. Baul Sangeet and the songs dedicated to Maa are performed by the children, while the dhaki, the musical instrument was played by the experts from Midnapore, he added.