Sunday, April 14, 2024

My first Durga Festival in Canada

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My first Durga Festival in Canada

Year 2021, October.

The world is in the second phase of the corona epidemic. Masks on everyone’s faces. Everyone is maintaining social distance. Sharadiya Durga Puja is going to start this time like every year. Since arriving in Canada, my Durga Puja celebrations have been confined to the four corners of the laptop. Basically I gave Anjali by watching the live worship of Ramakrishna Mission which was aired on DD Bangla. My home town of Sydney on Cape Breton Island had no chance to celebrate any worship. This time the situation is different. I came to the capital Halifax. I came to know about Sharadiya Society’s Puja celebration through the nearest neighbor Joy. He sent me the link for the puja registration. Register as soon as possible. Our identity is due to Cape Breton University.

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We have contacted several times on the email provided there. I have sent the text by mail to the source that I will send poetry in the puja. And I kept in touch with Didi on messenger. I tried to reach the place according to the instructions given by Sharadiya Society. Here the entire puja festival is completed on Saturday and Sunday. We realize this, however, after arrival, not before. It’s about an hour and seven minutes from home, as shown on Google Maps. After changing two buses, I can reach the place by walking quite a distance. This year’s Puja celebration pandal is Labrun Recreation Center, Bedford.

Shardia Society was established in 1976. An energetic man, Shatadal Dasgupta’s initiative. It was subsequently registered on November 17, 1986 in the Official Records of Nova Scotia. The first Sharadiya magazine also came out that year. The number of a few pages written by Shatadal Mashai was distributed to everyone. This time the 45th number will come out.

The current president’s name is Smriti Chowdhury. The vice-president is in charge of the attachment didi herself.
This festival in Halifax is one of the largest events in Atlantic Canada. Guests from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick also participated. They not only participate but also take on many responsibilities as volunteers.

I opened the luggage brought from the country and started to see which Punjabi I would wear. Also, many memories surround me. I went around a lot with Kuntal Dada wearing this panjabi. Our favorite place was Jagannath Hall, Dhaka University.

Joy and I left the house at a certain time. There is a pent-up tension in both of them. No one has celebrated Durga Puja in Canada before. There is some cool weather. I put on a simple jacket. This navy blue jacket was purchased from North Sydney Walmart. Two mothers are being remembered very much. Firstly, Mother Mother, secondly Durgamata, Vishwajanani. Currently, I have four mothers – apart from these two, Bangladesh, the green brunette mother and now Canada, the white mother.

We are also getting on the bus with the call of Matri Vandana. Sunday morning I boarded bus number four from near the house and got down at Spring Garden Road. Then take bus number eight to Bedford Highway convoy run. When we got down there we looked at the map and saw a road going up. I started moving forward slowly. I entered the uninhabited area. We both visited this place for the first time. The direction of the road that goes up continuously is very strange! The house is decorated like a beautiful picture around. And they planted different kinds of flower trees. Difficulty finding the way when approaching the destination. Because the way shown on Google Maps is a house! After that I went a bit to its side and saw a road towards the back. Go there and another puzzle. Because inside the main place I saw all the Canadian little kids playing sports. Inside the community center is a hockey stadium covering a large area. We came according to the map. So what did I move to another neighborhood?

A lot of things started spinning in my head. Once this door, another time that door, I could not find the main pandal! I did not get any response. Any sound of bell, kasa, ulu sound, music playing. Nothing! I was shocked and messaged her on messenger. The two went both ways but could not find the place. Didi called and helped us to reach the main place. It can be said that we arrived at the right time. Leaving the jacket and shoes in a certain place, I saw the Dashabhuja brought to the main puja a little ahead. An amazing feeling! Mother’s presence makes the whole body tingle. At whose gesture the entire universe vibrates is the presence of his graceful statue. My pen is losing words. It is said that if the mother gives ten hands, we will not get the root with two hands! For the last time Pandit Mashai called for Anjali. We quickly stood in line. First Anjali at the feet of my mother Shivani in the chest of Canada! The arrangement was completed very well. The idea of taking a wreath did not come to mind then.

I don’t have any familiar faces except one Jai. I could not see the attachment. I saw everyone taking pictures very closely. I asked Joy to post a picture. I started looking for Pujo’s magazine. Except for everything else until I visually see for once how many pages my writing is on. Got it! A collection of poems titled “Pujoor Panchdin” appeared on page four of Sharadiya 1428 magazine.

Magazines are lined up on a table near the entrance. I can see many other types of documents. They wanted to see our vaccine certificate as per covid regulations. Then they had to sign the list of members there. As a new member there were some other incidentals.

While I was busy with these things, I saw the ladies playing the game of vermilion. According to custom, today is Ashtami. Vijaya Dashami is two more days away. But they are recovering today. After tomorrow everyone will be busy with their work life. I hope Ma Gauri understands everything. Foreign metabolism! I walked out of the main community center after seeing some of the festivities from afar. I stood there with Joy and started chatting for a while. There was a conversation with many people inside. Some elderly grandfathers exchanged numbers. He started talking about where is his home in the country and where he is now. Contacted a lady from Raujan, Chittagong. He also recognized my father. The teacher of Karnaphuli Paper Mills School in Kaptai, Chandraghona asked Bapi’s name, “Are you his younger son?” How small the world!

Another name for Puja is Milan Mela. Everyone forgot all differences and came under one roof to worship Vishwamayi. A festival where the soil of the king’s house is needed, so is the soil of the brothel. All are children of Jagajjanani. In this festival, on the one hand, we pay homage to Ayatlochana, on the other hand, he appears in front of us with the whole family in a metaphorical sense of holding the ten directions with ten hands of mothers, daughters, sisters of our family. four people

Tanay-Tanya; Rama, Sarada and Shadanan, Gajanan.

I had already learned from the attachment sister what is the next program of the puja? He asked us to come in after forty minutes for lunch. One thing to note about Labrun Center is that everyone who comes here has known each other for a long time. Hugging each other like family members. The sisters are all busy handling Henshel together. Many people are telling different stories. All the Galgappo of the year may be recovering today. The grandparents are all talking about different things. Youngsters are playing like themselves. It is really nice to see everyone wearing different colored native clothes. Children also came dressed like themselves.

We stood in line like Lakshmi boys. Vegetarian pada is cooked here during puja. Just like my house. Five days of worship, vegetarian every day! However, since I came here, even though I was in Sydney, I have been vegetarian during that time even though I could not go to the temple or worship anywhere. At work, at university, I made everyone as cool as I could. Google sometimes stirs up those old sweet memories! Today’s meal consisted of pulses, vegetables, two types of braa, fried purple and of course curd, sweets.

Didi gave the food very carefully. We took it in the box. Being a Sunday, the bus schedule is a bit long. So we took the food packet and went out that day without further delay. After meeting everyone for the last time, I bowed to my mother and left for home.

Acknowledgments for data collection – Dolly Gupta, Sameeran Pal, Shardia Society.

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