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A taste of Bengal

Music, devotion, dance and food, it is all happening thanks to the various Bengali associations across Bengaluru.

October 13, 2015 04:25 pm | Updated 08:00 pm IST - Bengaluru

Dig in to the wide range of traditional food too -- Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Dig in to the wide range of traditional food too -- Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Pandal hopping or clicking selfies, flaunting new outfits or doing the dhunuchi dance (traditional Bengali dance), Durga Puja marks the beginning of pujas, zest and recreation. Bengalis feel they are an integral part of Bengaluru so much that it has led to diverse Bengali associations that have sprouted across the city. Here is a list of some of the offerings by the associations in the city.

Bengalee Association

Founded in 1959, this is said to be the oldest association in Bengaluru, which claims to witnesses around a lakh visitors every year. It is validated as a stop for socio-cultural activities for Bengalis. This year the association celebrates its 66th anniversary. Pujas will be held at RBANM School Ground, near Commercial Street to accommodate an expected crowd of 25,000.

This year there will be 30 exhibition stalls and 40 food stalls, serving authentic Bengali cuisine. There will also be cultural events featuring Madhura Bhattacharya, a young singer from Kolkata on October 21, Anindya Bose’s famous Bengali music band Sohor on October 22, besides Aarti Nirtya – a traditional dance competition. “The event is free and the celebrations are open to all,” says Dilip Maitra, the Vice President of Bengalee Association.

Socio Cultural Association (SCA), Indiranagar

The puja venue for this 45-year-old non-profit organisation is Poorna Prajna and Sishu Griha School Grounds HAL III Stage, New Tippasandra. SCA has the tradition of decorating the idol of Durga in daker saaj, a white embellishment.

This year SCA is bringing musicians such as Ujjaini Mukherjee (a Bengali playback singer) and a Baul singer from Shantiniketan. They also plan to invite local artistes like the band Divine Raga and singer Divya Raghavan. SCA plans to set up more than 25 food stalls.Subhajyoti, a member of the associations says, “We perform the rituals mentioned in the Bengali almanac. The Dhakis are brought from Bengal, they play their Dhaak (drum instrument) during Puja. The Dhunichi Dance, which is popular here.”

Sarjapur Outer Ring Road Bengali Association (SORRBA)

Formed in 2008 by Bengali families living around the junction of Sarjapur Road and Outer Ring Road, SORRBA will celeberate the festival at Sri A.G. Ramaiah Reddy Charitable Trust Ground. This year’s theme for SORRBA is Milke Karo, Man se Karo (Do it together, do it from heart). The celebrations will include a DJ Dandiya on October 18. This will be followed by a folk band the next day. SORRBA members plan to entertain the crowd this year with dance, drama, and music besides music by Bengali singer Lopamudra Mitra. There will be 10 food stalls with chicken roll, mutton chop, mutton kasa, luchi, biriyani and doi-misti. “Our aim is to preserve Bengali tradition. Children are encouraged to understand our culture through talent hunt programmes,” says Tarun Banerjee, President of SORBA.

Sarathi Socio-Cultural Trust

This association is known for its vibrant celebrations at Mangala Kalyana Mantapa, on 80 Ft Road, Koramangala. The five-day extravaganza is called Sammad with the theme for this year being Bibidher ajhe milan mohan , which means unity in diversity.

Cultural programs, organised by this association includes Ash King (Bollywood singer), events like antakshari, recitation and drawing competitions to encourage the youth. For food, one can look forward to the Bengali fish fry, mishti doi or even some Chinese and Mughlai cuisine with pizzas and rolls. Sudipto Das, a member of this trust says, “We don’t believe in Bengali culture in isolation. We consider the essence of India, celebrating the same, with a touch of Bengal.”

Anandadhara, J.P. Nagar

This association represents the Bengali community of South Bengaluru. Founded in 2011, Anandadhara’s aim is to depict the rural Bengal for this year’s celebrations. There will be disco dandia on October 22. There will be vegetarian food counters where you could dig into poori sabzi, sweets, cutlet, fried rice and noodles. They also plan to present Rabindra Sangeet.

Oikotan Hebbal Bengali Cultural Society

Establishes in 2013, this society believes in celebration of life, culture and traditions. They are calling their celebrations The Hebbal Durgotsav 2015. “The essence and spirit of this festival will be captured with ingenuity through our pandals and decorations,” explains the secretary. Hariharan, will perform and there will be a range of gastronomic treats on offer.

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