Society

Online Puja celebrations for Bengali community in Thiruvananthapuram

An idol installed at the Durga Puja celebrations organised by Trivandrum Bengalee Association last year   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Durga Puja celebrations of the Bengali community in Thiruvananthapuram is taking the digital route this year. The biggest event of the community, which usually features community pujas, cultural programmes and food festivals, is going online this year. Coordinating the events, as always, is the Trivandrum Bengalee Association (TBA).

“It is the golden jubilee year of our Durga Puja celebrations in Thiruvananthapuram and it is disappointing that we can’t have a grand event. But, in the current scenario, this is the best we can do. This is the new normal,” says Kaustabh Kumar Maiti, president, TBA.

The online programme from October 23 to 26 is observed as Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami. Usually artisans are brought from West Bengal to make the idols of Durga. But the pandemic ruled out that possibility. “Pujas will be held on a small scale at the house of a senior member of the TBA, in the morning and evening. That will be streamed on our website and our WhatsApp group,” he adds.

Cultural programmes put up by the members of the TBA are a highlight every year. This year, dance, music, drama and recitation will be recorded events and competitions for children in categories such as singing, drawing, essay writing and recitation will be held live. Instead of inter-school quiz competition, they are holding a quiz session open for members of all ages of the TBA. However, the members have decided to give the food festival a miss.

Curtains up

“Children and elders put up separate plays always and we didn’t want to skip that. The children’s play is Aban Jalpan, a work by Sukumar Ray, Satyajit Ray’s father. It is a drama in the form of poetry and talks about a man going in search of water. The child actors, five of them, recorded their dialogues from their homes, with their mothers helping them out. The presentation will be a mix of audio and video. The children are between the ages of four and 13,” says Maitrali Maiti, joint cultural secretary of TBA.

A Devi idol installed at the Durga Puja celebration organised by Trivandrum Bengalee Association in 2019

A Devi idol installed at the Durga Puja celebration organised by Trivandrum Bengalee Association in 2019   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Meanwhile the elders’ play is a radio drama, Vivah Viched (Divorce), a comedy written by Nirup Mitra. “We had to go for a play with minimum characters since all the actors had to record dialogues separately. This one has four actors. The audio files, over 200 of them, were later merged to form the play,” says Samir Das, coordinator of the play.

The TBA, now associated with Bharat Bhavan, was formed in 1971 and registered in 1994. It was the setting up Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) that brought many Bengalis to the city. Now over 80 families are members of TBA, with some of them living in the city for more than 45 years. While employees of VSSC continue to form a major chunk of TBA, some of the members work in public and private sector institutions in the capital city.

“Durga Puja is what every Bengali in the city looks forward to. It is a time for all of us to come together. Bengalis who are not members of TBA also used to turn up at the TBA’s programme at Hassan Marikkar Hall. We had employees from Technopark coming in buses,” says Sudipta Sarkar, secretary, TBA, and a resident of the city for the last 15 years.

The online celebration will be inaugurated by VK Ramachandran, vice-chairman, Kerala State Planning Board, October 23 at 6.30 pm. For updates, log on to www.tba.org.in

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 5:48:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/online-durga-puja-celebrations-of-bengali-community-in-thiruvananthapuram/article32917498.ece

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