The Durga puja festive period is here, as many organisers in the UK started their celebrations with a cultural programme to mark Mahalaya on Saturday 14 October.
Some of them have reached milestone years in 2023, such as the London Durgotsav Committee organised puja popularly known as the Camden Puja. They are celebrating 60 years and supported/visited by millionaire Lakshmi Mittal every year. London Sharad Utsav commonly known as the Ealing Pujo is now moving to a new venue in Greenford and celebrating 15 years this year. Panchamukhee at the Harrow Art Centre has also stepped onto the 18th year of its celebration, whereas Adda Slough is celebrating its 5th year. Every year the puja is visited by a huge number of people from Harrow and nearing boroughs. Along with Durga puja, this event also lines-up arrays of multi-cultural extravaganza, promoting the ethos of the borough, Unity in Diversity. Visitors also enjoy free food for all the five days.
Adda Slough like many other pujos in the UK, is a place to find lip smacking Bengali food as well as a proof of Bengal’s handicraft. In last few years at their puja, as a part of decoration, they have displayed wooden dolls of Agradwip, Burdwan, Patachitra from Nayagram, Pingla, West Midnapore, bamboo work from Kushmandi, South Dinajpur, shola work from Shantiniketan and Chhou mask from Purulia. This year Adda is going to display the exceptional lighting work of Chandannagar.
Nottingham Bengali Association is celebrating Durga Puja for the 6th year at the Hindu Temple at Carlton Road, with a brand new 5 feet high idol, exported from Kolkata. On the day of Kojagari Lakshmi pujo or Sharad Poonam- ie 28 October, Heritage Bengal Global (HBG) has organised a Thames Durga Parade with Durga protimas from local pujos and bhatiyali singing live in the background by the famous Sourav Moni. The idea is to recreate Kolkata's Red Road carnival environment and make a provision for people to enjoy the procession, albeit on river Thames. Second year in a row, organiser Anirban Mukhopadhyay is excited to pull this off on a busy weekend, as they are also participating at the Diwali on the Square, which is Mayor of London’s official Diwali celebration at Trafalgar Square, to be held on 29 October.
Speaking to Asian Voice exclusively he said, “Last year we had a boat that showcased Bengal’s handicrafts, culture, food and Ma Durga’s murti, that sailed down Thames, at the beat of dhak and kashor. It was a spectacle in UK’s history. This time, it promises to be bigger and better with lots of VVIPs joining us. We are hoping the High Commissioner of India to the UK, His Excellency Vikram Doraiswami will join too with wife, who is a Bengali herself. We are also hoping the. Deputy High Commissioner Sujit Ghosh will join. He was there at our first Thames parade.”
On 29 October, Dipti Jain who had organised the famous Saree Walk in London and the ‘Saree on Ladies’ Day’ at Ascot, is organising a Sidoor Khela at the Diwali on the Square, for the first time in history. Speaking to Bartaman, she said, they have mostly sourced and curated the white and red sarees to wear on the day from weavers and props from artisans in rural Bengal. From 2-3pm, 150 women will participate in this Sidoor Khela, in the heart of Trafalgar Square in Central London, along to the beats of Dhaak.