The feel of Kolkata in far-off Zurich

Unlike other Durga Pujas held overseas, the organisers of the Puja in Zurich, Switzerland, like things done in a traditional manner. This is why, they have vowed not to wrap up festivities in two days, as is the norm with most overseas Pujas. They insist on following all the rituals through the five days and a proper bisarjan is then done in the Zurich Lake. Women well past their sixties prepare more than 1,000 Naarkoler Naaru. People of the community come forward to help in all possible ways: some by sponsoring garlands for the Puja and others by bringing  back sarees, dhotis, gamchaa and sweets to be used during the Pujas, from their visit back home in Kolkata.
Mr Jyotiprasad Majumder, secretary of the Puja committee, said that there are about 300 listed Bengali families in and around Zurich. If the unlisted are accounted for the number will go up even higher. There are no specific registered Bengali clubs or organisations in and around Zurich. Of course, Bengalis meet, cook and eat together and chat occasionally. The Puja organisation is dedicated to conducting Durga Pujas. Needless to say, most of the Bengalis are integrated or members in one or other Indian Associations. “The Puja preparations start as early as April or May when we request the members to make their financial contributions, so that we can budget for the festivities reasonably,” said Mr Majumdar.
The protima is made of fibreglass and was shipped from Kumartuli, Kolkata in the year 2004. It can be easily disassembled and re-assembled. Importing the protima every year is cumbersome and financially taxing ~ fibreglass protimas are more expensive ~ so Puja organisers have a symbolic bisarjan of the kola-bou after women have had their fill of Sindur Khela. “For the past five years we have had the same priest ~ Mr Jaydev Bhattacharyya. He is flown in from Kolkata every year,” said Mr Majumdar. The Puja executive committee consists of five to six members and about 20 to 25 active volunteers help during the Puja days. The rest of the members pay their membership fee and participate in the celebrations. Cultural programmes are organised on all three days ~ from Saptami through Nabami. “This year for the first time ~ since the Sandhi Puja takes place in the afternoon (in Zurich from 2:19 until 3:07 PM) ~ we are going to have Dhunuchi Nach on Ashtami evening, performed by members and guests,” said Mr Majumdar. The Puja organisation was founded in 2004 and every year during Bijoya Sammelan, held two to three weeks after the Puja, a general body meeting is held by the registered members and new executive members are elected for the next year.

Soma Basu

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