Jharna Dasgupta, Christchurch, NewZeland
A seagull breaks the silence of the crisp cool morning and makes its way to the edge of the waters of the Pacific expecting a breakfast in the waiting. The first lone daffodil swaying in the gentle breeze is heralding the season that has “hope” etched in each of the flowers of the myriad colours that roll down our hills. I look at the deep blue horizon and send this message of hope to the land of my birth across the many seas. I realise we have stepped back in time, a century or two ago and are physically in an isolation similar to the early settlers in this farthest human habitation. For the first time I am appreciating the gift of modern day technology, in that i am able to “virtually” see my family as and when I wish.
At the stroke of midnight while we welcomed 2020 to the tune of Auld Lang Syne with family and friends in India, a virus to be later named Covid 19 was silently but swiftly moving in all its spiked glory to be crowned the Killer of the year. Four months of lockdown and hundreds of thousands of deaths later it continues to hold the world in the grip of fear and anxiety. We, in the flipside of the universe are lucky enough to step into some semblance of normality that we have come to accept as the new norm.
Yes, it’s that time of the year. In the spring of 2016, the handful of Bengali inhabitants of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand sprung into action and zealously pulled together our first ever Durga Puja.
All thanks to the dexterity of our PM in managing what is the most complex and challenging problem of our times we are into Level 1 which translates to an absence of any barrier in social congregation. Hence, we the members of the Bengali community in Christchurch New Zealand have for the fifth year embarked on our plans to make Durga Puja a reality in the end of October.
However the complexity of the Covid 19 situation that encompasses, amongst various others the economic health of the country/world would mean we would have to be vigilant on our spending. We will have to put off our plans for a new deity until next year.
As usual the Puja will be held in the premises of an early childhood centre who have always been generous with the space on offer, this year more so than in the previous years.
Children of the community and their parents have never lacked the enthusiasm in presenting various cultural items and this year will be no exception. Rehearsals have started and the school term break could not have come at a more opportune time. Bengali the eternal food lover and connoisseur must talk about the next food menu while still the present meal is in progress. Not deviating from the pledge to the cultural roots, our members have again planned an extensive menu. With a dedicated group of our male members whose skill has been proven over the years the meal cooked in a state of the art commercial kitchen promises to be nothing less than extraordinary. Yummy jalebis will be donated by a sponsor from what I hear.
Ma Durga willing, we will have ambitious plans for our next Durga Puja, a new deity being on top of the wish list.
Ma Durga our prayers to you,
You are our SHAKTI. Please rid the world of the present day “Ashur” like you did then, so we the citizens of the world could be free of fear and anxiety and of all the torture on our well being and health by the DEMON, COVID
Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti
Photo Courtesy: Bhaswati Sarkar