Probasee Bengalee Association of NZ Inc celebrated the biggest festival of the Bengali community – the 27th NZ Sorbojonin Durgotsav from Friday, October 19 till Sunday, October 21 at NZ Athia Trust Hall in Onehunga.

Durga Puja celebration is a reflection of the quintessential Bengali love of art, culture, music, dance and meeting people (‘Adda’) for fun and good times, with devotion and prayers to Goddess Durga.

The focus on the decoration, expression of artistic views and the cultural programme reflects the heritage of Bengalis and the Indian tradition providing a foundation for all Kiwi-Indian Bengalis to be connected to their roots.

Probasee Durga Puja was spread over three days with the establishment of the idol of Goddess on the sanctum as the very first step on the first day. The evening was marked with a diverse cultural show with welcoming of Goddess Durga to her maternal home as the Bengalis would embrace as homecoming (‘Aagomoni’).

This was followed by other programmes such as children showcasing their welcome programme with classical Dance – Bharatnatyam, Bengali songs in chorus and medley and flute play.

The second day started with the puja in the morning and prayers were offered throughout the day as per specific timings and rituals. In the evening of Day 2, cultural shows were even more grandeur with flavours of classical music, a mix of Bollywood and traditional dances fused together. The evening programme included RD Burman songs with the kids, a bouquet of Bengali songs, Bihu, Ghoomar, Kuchipudi – Classical dances and so on.

Day 3 culminated with special offerings of Ashtami Puja, where all the devotees had Flower-offerings (‘Pushpanjali’) as a traditional ritual.

The puja continued during the day, and in the evening, it completed with a traditional send-off to Goddess Durga towards the abode at Kailash to her home, by offering vermillion (‘Sindoor Daan’) by the ladies in beautiful Red Sarees. After the rituals, the floor was open for all of us to dance to a grand farewell as a conclusion to the festival.

Approximately 2000 people came to the event across three days with visitors from different Indian communities as well as local Kiwis who graced the occasion apart from the Bengali community.

The visitors and members were treated with special meals and delicacies over these three days across lunch and dinner especially prepared by Probasee chefs catering to a vast dining hall in the venue.

“This itself is a huge achievement given the volumes and managing the constant flow of devotees to the venue for the festival,” the spokesperson for Probasee Bengali New Zealand Sudeshna Giri told The Indian Weekender.

The Probasee Durga Puja festival was graced by Hon Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa and Labour list MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan along with key members of Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust.

About Durga Puja:

Durga Puja is not just a religious festival in Kolkata or India, but it has reached a carnival sort of status as celebrations with an expression of art, culture and themes. The global presence of Bengalis across various geographies also reflect the same with a focus on art and culture more than religion, and over the years, there has been more inclusive celebration cutting across social fabrics of communities. Probasee Durga Puja also on the same path as it starts to reflect the nature of participation with visitors and members alike.

The local Kiwi-born Bengalis start to identify and associate themselves to the tradition of Durga Puja from Mahalaya all the way to the Bijoya Dasami Day. The colourful dresses the kids wear, the kurta-Punjabi and sarees the adults exhibit the fervour of the biggest festivals of the Bengali community.