Ten years after a small band of young professional Bengalis in Glasgow set up BSP (BangiyaSanskritikParishad), some of them ventured boldly to bring home what they missed the most about their homeland – the Durga Puja.
In 1981, BSP Glasgow hosted its first-ever SarbajaninDurgotsav (Durga Puja for everybody). The committee members comprised Mr Pulak Mukherjee, Mr Dipen Mukherjee, Mr Satyen Mukherjee, Mr NiharBanerjee , Mr TarapadaSain, Mrs Leena Mukherjee and Mr Ashok Banerjee (priest). Mrs Mridula Chakraborty, Mrs Sheela Mukherjee, Mr Bishwanath Sinha, Mr ShyamalMajumdar and many others have been closely involved and supported the Durga Puja for many years.
Needless to say, Bengalis from all over Scotland came together joyously and celebrated with a fervour deserving of a festival as glorious as this.
For Durga Puja is the nucleus of every Bengali heart, the focal point of the calendar year, the very definition of our being.
Fast forward to 2019 – and globalisation has brought hundreds of Bengali professionals into Glasgow. Bengalis who have happily dug down their roots and settled here. Older generations have now handed over the baton to those of us next in line, to carry on the tradition. And carry on, we do!
If you were to walk into the Couper Institute on Glasgow’s southside on any one of the days during the Pujas, you would most certainly be transported back to the colourful and chaotic colours of Kolkata. Truth be told, us Glasgow Bengalis feel we have an edge over the ‘back home’ Pujas. Because we seem to have amalgamated the best of both styles, i.e., The Sarbajanin (for everybody), and The Barwari (for one household).
Here, in Glasgow, our numbers may run into hundreds, but we know each other as extended family members. And for these five days, our hearts beat together as one, along with the pulsating beat of the ‘dhaak’.
What works wonders to add to the joy of the Pujas, is we are then able to carry forward the same expressions of joy into the remaining year – whilst we continue to meet, greet and of course, eat, together.
And no Glasgow Bengali can ever truly be homesick, for we have created the best of home right here, on soil which is no longer ‘foreign’. Yes, we have the best of both the worlds and our Mother is coming soon.