Indian community comes together to celebrate Navratri and Durga Puja in the UK

Tuesday 04th October 2022 07:58 EDT

Hundreds of Indians have been gathering every day across the UK to celebrate Navratri, one of the most sacred and popular festivals in the Hindu calendar.

Navratri celebrates Ma Durga and her manifestations for 9 days in a huge carnival, where mostly the West and North Indian communities are seen dancing in circles around a murti (idol) or photo of the Goddess to observe this festival. Some people also fast and maintain a special diet. 

Gujaratis from the Kutch region of Gujarat were seen celebrating Navratri in London, where even the police joined them to dance to the beat of Garba.

Nearly 5000 celebrating Navratri organised by Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community (UK) saw leaders including the High Commissioner of India to the UK, HE Vikram Doraiswami with wife joining the community spirit.

Rejoicing the spirit of the celebration, Pravin Arjan, a committee member for Navratri Festival Association Manchester reportedly told the ITV News, "For me, it's about togetherness and harmony in the community. 

"Some of these people you don't see all year, and then when you meet them on the first day of Navratri it's always hugs and handshakes.

"It's such a wonderful period to see all the people from all different backgrounds all blending in and as one.

"People are from the Northwest, so Manchester, Bolton and the surrounding areas. But then you get people coming far as Bradford, Leeds. 

"We've got one lady this year who's come from Portugal. She's especially come for the festival from Portugal."

Similarly hundreds of people gathered at Leicester’s Platinum Suite on Friday evening (October 1), to take part in the colourful festivities put on by Music Arts. 

“It’s been nice to see a lot of familiar faces as well,” organiser Meera Majithia told the Leicester Times. 

“Due to the pandemic, it was the first time the event had been held in two years, making it extra special. 

“We have been organising the event for 27 years, so actually that break was a pretty big deal for us, so it’s extra special because it’s the first year we’re back.”

Other celebrations for Navratri are taking place at community centres and temples in and around Leicester, including those at the Peepul Centre and Scraptoft Lodge Farm.

A ‘Disco Dandia’ event on Saturday night (October 9), will be complete with lights, a disco ball and lots of Bollywood music.


Durga puja 'parikrama'


London never falls short of the biggest Bengali celebration of Durga puja, with an increasing diaspora every passing year. Today, in London alone we have more than 30 such Pujas in every nook and corner.

Bengali association Indian Bengalis in UK (IBUK) organised a ‘Puja Parikrama’, helping people to visit different pujas in chartered buses, in the essence of Kolkata’s famous ‘pandal hopping’ practice. 

IBUK arranged 3 buses for West London which ran on 1 October, one for East London and another for the Midlands (Birmingham) which ran on 2 October, a total of 5 buses to accommodate the outpour of enthusiasm among the community for this one-of-a-kind venture. 

IBUK is a non-profit organisation founded in 2015, trying to provide Bengalis with a flavour of home, far away from home.

The West London buses, led by Dalia, Rhea, Anwesha and Shrabanti covered Pujas from Hounslow in London to Reading in Berkshire, further west out of London. The eastern avatar led by Dalia and Tanumoy started from Stratford, via Orpington, Swanley and ran until Ilford before calling it a day for the super enthusiastic crowd.

The Birmingham bus led by Saikat covered all 5 pujas that happen in that city. Sandeep from Leicester remotely helped with the smooth execution of the Birmingham parikrama. Lunch and dinner were provided by the Puja organisers. 

Every year IBUK also publishes a Durga Puja map which helps thousands of NRIs find their nearest puja in the UK and plan accordingly.


First ever ‘Nabapatrika Snan’ in the UK


Bengal Heritage Foundation celebrated one of the biggest Durga Puja in Europe – London Sharad Utsav (LSU) - with more than 12,000 people joining over 4 days. Set at the historic Ealing Town Hall, the Puja brought together a unique milieu of tradition and trend, ensuring adherence to ceremonial rituals while creating an atmosphere of celebration of art, music, food, and fun.

The puja’s theme this year was ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, keeping up with spirit of India’s 75th year of Independence and it also reflected on the decor of Ealing Townhall having touch of tricolour in various places and in the cultural programmes.

This year, London Sharad Utsav also introduced a unique “Nabapatrika Snan” on the banks of the river Thames, done first time in the UK. 

Nabapatrika is formed by bundling nine different plants. After that it is given a ceremonial bath mostly in a river, wrapped with a red or orange coloured cloth and then installed on a wooden seat on the right side of Goddess Durga.

However, the most historic moment for LSU's puja this year was the first-ever visit by the High Commissioner of India, Vikram Doraiswami and High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Saida Muna Tasneem. They came together on same stage together, inaugurating London Sharad Utsav's Durga Puja.

Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India in UK said, “Bengal Heritage Foundation had both the HCs from India and Bangladesh together reminding the world of the friendship between India and Bangladesh. Durga puja is an occasion of shared joy."

“Durga Puja has always been a special festival for me since childhood and I have such fond memories. It has been a pleasure spending sometime here with the BHF organisers and hearing from them about their experiences in organising this festival beautifully,” said Saida Muna Tasneem, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh. 

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