Bangaliana Multicultural Christchurch Group celebrated the popular festival with Covid-19 protocols in place.

It is a dream come true to celebrate Durga Puja in Christchurch at a huge scale with such authenticity. Since, this was our first year celebrating the festival at Bromley Community Centre on ninth day of October which was the third day of the festival.

Celebration of this festival in a foreign land trying to keep the originality was not that easy. There were hurdles all the way long starting with the idea of getting the idol here in Christchurch from Kolkata, India amidst the pandemic, finding a place where it could be held, preparing the Bhog (prasad) and getting a team together which could pull this off – but of-course we tackled all the difficulties and made it happen.

The day was organised in such a way that everyone could enjoy little bits of everything that we would have during the 9-day festival back in Kolkata. The day started with the Puja at 9 o'clock which was then followed by Pushpanjali (offering of prayers and flowers to the goddess) around 12:30 p.m. Bangaliana Group did not restrict the offering of Pushpanjali only to the group but was extended to the wider public as well which hopefully gave everyone a warm and homely feeling as they would get if they were back home.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions Pushpanjali was organised in smaller groups of people at a time so it isn't overcrowded at once near the Idol. The hall had chairs laid out maintaining distance between them. We also organised some lunch after the Puja which also served as a break for everyone before we started our cultural part. The lunch was served outside the hall area in the open ground and of course due to Covid-19 restrictions there were seating arrangements made with only four people at one table.

A bouncy castle was also organised to keep the kids entertained. The cultural part of the event consisted of some beautiful performances such as singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. The high spot of the cultural acts was playing Dambulla by a Christchurch group which generally plays West African music but with their tremendous practice they made it really special for the Bangaliana Group by playing a mixture of west African and Dhak Music ( a typical music played in Kolkata during Durga Puja with the Dhak, which is again a very similar instrument to Dambulla).

Toward the end of the event, the organisers arranged a small prize giving ceremony to all the performers for their contribution. The prizes were given out by the team members which was another effort to recognise their hard work for making this day happen.