Bengalis from not only West Bengal but from other parts of the world will unite to welcome the deity at New Zealand. Unlike other overseas Pujas that invite artistes from India and Kolkata to perform, this miniscule group organises shows for which their children start rehearsing a month before. A Rabindra nritto, a play or a song is what every Bengali child is made to focus on. Elders, however, prepare for the rituals which are completed in two days.
Mr Pallab Kumar Banerjee, president of the Probashee Bengalee Association of New Zealand Inc, said that unlike Indian communities which started residing more than a century ago in New Zealand, Bengalis from India started settling only in the 1980s. In fact, there were very few Bengali families there till 1990s. A handful of Bengali veterans initially started the Puja in the house of a member in 1992. As the population grew, halls were hired for the purpose. The Probashee Bengalee Association came into being in 1998. Though the Puja committee was formed in 1992, the association brought this under its banner in course of time.
At present there are around 200 families, out of which 125 families are members of the Bengali Association and the rest are members of two other Bengali associations called Nandan and Bhavna. Many Bengalis from Bangladesh also attend the Pujas organised here.
“The Puja is conducted as per our ancient scriptures by a person who belongs to the Bhatpara family. He is also our most prominent and oldest founder member,” said Mr Pallab Banerjee. The durga idol is brought from Kumartuli. The protima (idol) is not immersed after the puja is over but is kept for use in later years.
“All the families participate in the Pujas and their enthusiasm during this period is at its peak, I feel. They not only enjoy the Pujas but are also provided with lunch and dinner at the place where the Puja is held. There is a great joy in eating together,” he added.
The cultural programmes are organised during the festival on Friday and Saturday evenings. One of the main attractions this year is Agomoni which will be presented together with the famous audio programme, incantation by Birendra Krishna Bhadra broadcast on All India Radio, Calcutta.
“Preparations for the festival starts six weeks before the due date. Our children, youngsters and others, are now engaged in rehearsal of various programmes to be presented during the Pujas,” said Mr Banerjee.