Sunday, July 21, 2024

The way the tambour sounded in Durgabari

- Advertisement -
As an immigrant I came to Toronto Canada with my family to my brothers house in Danforth

The time is June 2005. As an immigrant, I came to Toronto, Canada with my family to my brother’s house in Danforth, a Bengali-dominated area. Everything was done right before. I found Swapan Sarkar’s drink shop in a day or two. Started coming and going. Gradually the identity began to grow. I joined the new chat. Since there was not much to do, the chat continued regularly.

A few days later, the first Baisakh came. During my stay in Bangladesh, on this day of the beginning of the Bengali year, I get up in the morning and bow to the temple every year. But I don’t know where the temple is in Toronto. After searching I found out that there is a temple in Mississauga. But Bengali Hindus don’t have any temple in Toronto city. It moves me. So many Bengalis living but Bengalis have no temples!

- Advertisement -

Relevantly, the matter came up one day in a chat. Then the discussion continued. It went on like this for several days. At one stage it was decided that it would be a temple. Start looking for an address. Satya Saha, Partha Bhattacharya, Sajal Banik, Soumitra Chowdhury, Bimal Bhowmik, Shankar Devarai, Subhash Pal etc. are many names to remember in this great initiative. Many places were seen with them. At that time real estate agent Mr. Tana and A Mannan helped us a lot.

The 2007 Durga Puja was organized as usual at the Kanthaswamy (Sri Lankan temple) temple under the banner of the Cultural Association. One evening when I brought up the topic of own temple, Sudeep Som and Debabrata De suggested to me that there is a possibility of success if the initiative is taken along with any organization of Dharmashram or Cultural Association. We spent the day in great uncertainty with the desire to set up a temple of our own. At that time, the cultural association used the basement address of a house to conduct its activities.

A few days later, Arun Dutt, then president of the Cultural Association, joined Danforth’s chat. I told him about our dream. He is the president of an organization. But without any discussion with his committee he said, he is with us.

At that time, the cultural association committee had almost completed the preparations to install the idol in the basement of a building. We didn’t really like worshiping in the basement. We requested the committee to stop the process for one day. Meanwhile, the Indian citizen spoke to the owner of Ranka Industries privately and confirmed the location of the temple at 300, Danforth Road. Monthly rent is 3 thousand 600 dollars.

The journey started in 2008 at this address with many crooked words, many words of despair. Then on an auspicious day the lamp was lit in Toronto’s first Bengali temple. I have to say again that Arun Dutt is the man who gave us hundred percent support in this work despite all obstacles.

In the beginning, few fans used to come. I started bringing and taking old fans in my car. Alok Dutta and Partha Bhattacharya used to clean the snow in front of the temple during winter. One winter evening Anuj farmer Shubhra Saha came to the temple with her baby. He lived near the temple then. As I felt dependent on him, I gave him the key of the temple on the first day. As far as I know, till today he is fulfilling his duty properly.

In 2009, as per custom, the temple election schedule was announced. A panel of 12 members was announced thinking that we need leadership if we want to gift our own temple to the community. After that many things happened. At some point we didn’t have to be together anymore. Start the journey again.

In June 2009, the first decision was made with a few like-minded people at Paramita Purkayastha’s residence to see the source of the money and the building. A new temple was registered which is now called Toronto Dugabari with temporary office in my house. The first meeting of the Bangladesh Hindu Community Center in Canada was convened on July 15 of the same year. Where Sudeep Dey, Iresh Dev, Narayan Chatterjee and others were present. In the same meeting the name ‘Toronto Durgabari’ given by Biswajit Adhikari was accepted. Although Mahadev Chakraborty, a prominent thinker of the city, also suggested the same name over the telephone. Subsequently the organization was registered.

The search for a place for the temple began. Meanwhile, regular meetings continued in different houses. Remembering the heavenly Subrata Soma with respect. He is trying day and night to fulfill our promise despite illness. This was the last achievement of his life. A place at first is almost guaranteed. But later it was decided to buy a place worth about one million dollars at 427-433 Birchmount Road, today’s Toronto Durgabari. As the 2009 Durga Puja was in October and the date of handover of the place was fixed in November, it was decided by the devotees to rent the place from the owner and organize the Durgo Festival.

Before buying the temple, I had brought covers, drums, harmonium, banners and idols from Bangladesh. I was sure something would happen. Therefore, in 2009 Toronto Durgabari’s Autumn Durgo Festival was celebrated in Sarambar in a week of preparation. We got the statue from Bharat Sevashram and barrister Paltu Shikdar assisted in it.

In 2010, due to city regulations, the puja was organized again in 2011 with a new initiative. Later new idols were brought. Whose patronage was Vijay Roy. The first own temple of Bangladeshi Hindus in the city of Toronto Ñ Toronto Durgabari. The long-standing demand for life has been realized today. It is proven today that commitment and concentration can make anything possible.

Inspired by us, Bangladesh Cultural Association bought its own temple at 16 Dome Avenue. Dharmasramas have also found their own place to survive. Now there are three Bengali temples in the city of Toronto, which no one could have imagined.

Another thing to be mentioned is that in 2008 the devotees were under pressure to start the puja according to the first tithi at Danforth. Because earlier worship was weekend-based. Now no organization is doing puja outside the Tithi. Through this, the next generation will get an opportunity to get acquainted with their own culture. Otherwise we would have lost our existence in different ethnicities.

Proud to think that we have given an address to an addressless group. In the beginning the relationship between the temples was somewhat competitive, but now it is not. Everyone is chanting and praying together. This is an emotional feeling.

Durga Puja came again after year. Durgtinashini Durga appeared in heaven and death. The combined effulgence of all the gods created Mahamaya. Again, by being strong in that power, Goddess Chandi destroyed the evil and established justice and peace in heaven and death and raised the underlying meaning of religion again.

Mother comes every year. Go back to Kailash with devotee’s worship. When the flowers turn white in autumn, traditional Bengalis prepare to welcome Mother Durga. Child’s joy at mother’s arrival. The joy we have all year round.

Scarborough, Canada

- Advertisement -

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to us if you would like to read weekly articles on the joys, sorrows, successes, thoughts, art and literature of the Ethnocultural and Indigenous community living in Canada.

Related Articles