Indian professionals add to Durga Puja surge in UK
One of the oldest Durga Puja events has been held at Camden in north London since the late 1960s, while other major events include the Panchamukhee at Harrow and London Sharad Utsav in Ealing.world Updated: Oct 04, 2017 09:06 IST
It may not have yet reached the level of Diwali – now a mainstream festival in Britain – but a large number of Durga Puja celebrations were held in various parts of UK this year, with London events attracting the most visitors.
Idols were sourced from Kumartuli in Kolkata as thousands of IT and other professionals and their families joined the celebrations attended by people from different religions and communities, as well as MPs and local leaders.
Durga Puja events were reported in more than 50 centres across Britain this year, such as Leicester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff, marking a new high for the Bengali community, whose events involve Indians from different communities and states, including those hailing from Assam, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tripura.
One of the oldest Durga Puja events is held at Camden in north London – since the late 1960s – while other major events include the Panchamukhee at Harrow and London Sharad Utsav in Ealing. The Camden event is sponsored by steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
Labour MP Seema Malhotra visited the event organised by charity organisation Prabashi in Hounslow, and lauded the efforts to help “connect the younger generation with their roots”. Local MP Ruth Cadbury (Labour) has also been a regular visitor to Prabashi events.
Ethnically one of the most diverse London boroughs, Hounslow is home to a large number of migrants from India, including professionals. This year marked the sixth Durga Puja organised by Prabashi, attracting people from across London and elsewhere.
After an eventful immersion of the deity in the Thames in 2016, Prabashi procured a new idol produced by celebrated artisan Prasanta Pal from Kumartuli. The cost of the deity was met by Santanu Poddar, a Prabashi founding member.
Biraja Ghosal of Tata Consultancy Services, who performed the role of a priest, said: “Our focus is on dedication and sincerity, resisting the temptation of going for flashy things. Over four days, between 5,000 and 6,000 people have their food during the Durga Puja and they include people from various religions and ethnicities. We want more people to visit us but paucity of space is the biggest challenge now.”
Instead of inviting artists from India, Prabashi seeks to promote talent from members and their families. “From around Christmas we start planning for the next year. Prabashi ladies share a lot of responsibilities in planning the programmes and training their kids,” said Arya Kashyap, a member of its cultural committee.