Most of them have savoured the feverish Durga Puja festivities in Bengal at one time or other. They may miss finding an idol on every street corner like Kolkata. But for the 100 and odd Bengali families who call Puducherry home, one idol unites the entire community in a week of camaraderie and cultural revelry.

This week beginning on Thursday marks the five days of Durga Puja, ‘the most important festival for Bengalis,’ as Partha Ghosh, a member of Bangabharati, the local Bengali association puts it. The association has planned an itinerary that includes rituals, authentic food, dance, drama and competitions for the 22{+n}{+d}edition of the celebration in the town.

“Pondicherry has become home for us, so much so we prefer celebrating the Puja here as we have four to five days of activities to plan and get ready for,” says Ruchira Ghosh. Both adults and children find the run up to the celebration more exciting as it binds the community together. “We have been holding rehearsals for drama and dance over the weekends for the last two months in alternate households,” says Mr. Partha Ghosh. “The event has evolved more into a community celebration than a religious festival,” says long time resident P.G. Mukerjee, president of the association.

The celebrations kicked off with gusto on Thursday after the face of the idol was unveiled. While ‘Shinjohn,’ a Kolkata based troupe would perform a dance- drama, Genesis, a local orchestra would perform songs. The celebrations are held at Saibaba Kalyana Mandapam, near Hotel Ananda Inn, Thiruvalluvar Nagar.