A Sonar Bangla in cowboy country

The cowboy capital of the world will have a Sonar Bangla in it during the Pujas this year and a Bengali Food Fest will offer delicacies from the favourite shukto and chorchori to shorshe ilish. The Bengali Association of Greater Dallas ~ Antorik ~ in Texas, USA has themed this year’s Puja celebration as Sonar Bangla.
Live performance by Haimanti Shukla and Sruti Natok by Partho Ghosh and Gouri Ghosh will invoke the Bagaliana spirit; singers ~ Rajdeep and Torsha ~ will add glitter to the programme with Tollywood and Bollywood numbers.
All that the Puja organised in Dallas offers today is because of the effort of 30 families that started the sojourn in 1999 with the first Kumari Puja in USA and two-day Durga Puja later. “Few families felt the need for a true family style Durga Puja in Dallas where the actual puja would receive highest priority. That’s how, with only 30 families, we started off,” said Mr Sudipta Das, general secretary of Antorik. Initially, from 30 families, the number of families that attend now is more than 500. The usual Vedic path of Puja is followed and all the customs that are followed in family Pujas in West Bengal and Puja in Ramakrishna Missions are maintained.
Antorik was the first overseas organisation that pursued Kumartuli artiste, Gorachand Paul & Sons, to make a fiberglass protima (idol) in 2004. Initially they were hesitant, as they had never built any such protima in a commercial way. “It took five months and lots of shipping, handling, Customs-duty issues. At last, the protima reached here. People were amazed to see such gorgeous protima and opened the door for Pradyout Paul (young leader of Gorachand Paul and Sons company) in the overseas protima market,” said Mr Das.
The Puja preparations have several parts ~ preparation for the Puja itself, Puja logistics, local cultural programme and guest artistes. Guest artistes selection and signing contract with them starts six to seven months before the Pujas while other preparations start three months before the Pujas. Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, Subhamita, Anup Ghoshal, Arnab Chakraborty, Jojo, Aneek Dhar, Jagannath and Urmimala Basu have performed at the Durga Puja organised by Antorik. Intense preparation and training by local participants for our local cultural programmes also starts during the summer preceding the Pujas. “The families involved also organise a programme where  children perform,” said Mr Das.

Soma Basu

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