People like us who live abroad in order to manage our professional assignments suffer from sheer nostalgia and home sickness during Debi Paksha period, though we physically reside in the USA mentally we still belong to our beloved City of Joy, our own Kolkata. Hence, in order to nurture our emotional needs, we try to celebrate ‘Durga Puja’ in Houston as well. This is my second year in Houston and this year also, we have celebrated Sharod Utsav in our own way. Despite certain acute hurdles & limitations, we still have tried to feel the Durga Puja magic, here in Houston in our own way. This is my second year in the USA and this year also we have celebrated Durga Puja by various religious rituals and cultural programs. In Houston this year Durga Puja was celebrated in a couple of destinations.
The first one was held in Vedanta Society, which is located at Greater Houston. The Vedanta Society Idol of Maa Durga resembled like the Goddess’s idol of “Boro Bari”, in North Kolkata. This Puja was accomplished in a single day, which was on 5th October 2013. This religious ‘Maatri Aaradhana’ was also followed with Indian cultural performances during the evening hours.
The second one & the most well known Durga Puja was grandly held in Houston Durga Bari. During 2012, The Houston Durga Bari Puja was a massive event, covering eight days. The Celebrations along with the rituals started from Maha Shashti and went on till Bijoya Dashami, as per the regular schedule. As all these days were working days for us, we celebrated the last 4 days yet again from Thursday to Sunday. It was indeed an elongated weekend for all the Bengali’s and also for the enthusiastic Non-Bengali Kolkata lovers like us, who are living in Houston and terribly miss our motherland India and our beloved “Kolloleeni Tilottoma Kolkata”.
This year, the mega festive event ‘Anandamela’ was organized by the Houston Durga Bari and was organized by the Houston Durga Bari Society.
The Mahalaya (the initiation of Debi Paksha) was celebrated on last Sunday i.e 6th October 2013. The chief priest of Houston Durga Bari (we call him Panditji) duly performed all the rituals related to the agamoni of Maa Durga. The Mahalaya Pushpaanjali took place at 11 am which was followed by the Mahalaya songs by the local Indian children.
Meera di, an educated elderly Bengali lady, living in Houston, then addressed the gathering by narrating mythological stories, which were taken from Hindu Puranas. The stories, which covered the evolvement of Nobo Durga Avatars, the story behind the origin of Goddess Chandi & how did she managed to kill the evil Mahishasura in order to save the universe. Meera di also narrated episode of Akaal Bodhon, which is a story from The Ramayana. The kids enjoyed every bit of Meera Di’s story telling and the adults weren’t left out as well. We also felt enlightened and enriched by her beautiful narrations.
Thereafter it was time for some lighthearted refreshments and a cultural performance, from our City of Joy. The Kids gathered, also had the opportunity to do face painting and play among themselves while the elders were busy in giving ‘adda’ and thus sharing the home sickness and nostalgia with each other.
And then it was time for the much awaited The Lunch Break. The lunch menu included traditional & deliciously mouth watering Bengali recipes like Shukto, Daal, Rui Maachher Kaaliya, Hilsa Maachher Jhaal, Kasha Mangsho and last but definitely not the least, our very beloved Mishti Doi, Roshogolla & Sandesh. Apart from these, the menu also featured popular Mouglai & Chinese snacks like Kebabs Rolls, Chilly Chicken / Paneer, and Fried Rice.
After the enjoyable lunch break, around 3pm the musical cultural show started, which featured Mr. Sayak Bandopadhyay, who is a renowned Bengali singer from our own Kolkata. Sayak started his performance with Mohit Chauhan’s hit song “Dooba Dooba’ and went on to sing other popular Indian songs. Sayak ended his wonderful show with Manna Dey’s famous Bangla adhunik gaan “coffee house-er sei adda-ta”, the song which brought tears in the eyes of almost all the audiences gathered as all of us were terribly homesick by then, and were badly missing our pandal hopping days & Pujo Adda with our buddies, back home.
Though far away from the country my heart reaches out to the city and the beats of the dhaak still resound in my years. Hope you all have a wonderful Durga Puja too.
Houston Durga Puja Report by:
Meelan Gupta is born & brought up in Kolkata but his work as a Senior level Finance Professional has taken him to places like Russia, Dubai & few other countries. Currently he is working in Houston, USA with ION Geophysical as Corporate Finance Manager. Durga Puja, like every other Kolkattan is very special to Meelan too and this exhaustive report is his way of reaching out to folks back home.