We know that Durga Puja is celebrated by Bengali communities in many places outside India too. All the celebrations may not follow the traditional four-day rule and other rituals for time constraints (unlike here they don’t get holidays, so it’s often a weekend affair), but the fervour of communities yearning for some connect with Bengal more than makes up for it.
However, there are a few places where Durga Puja is celebrated in all its glory.
Aashna Wandani Radha Kanhai, Suriname’s ambassador to India, let in on one such celebration in her hometown in Suriname, a former Dutch colony situated on the northern shore of South American. Though situated in South America, it is more of a Caribbean country like its neighbours, Guyana and French Guiana.
According to her, Durga Puja is organised at her home as well as her locality with as much pomp and grandeur as in Kolkata. It is held for five days, right from Shashthi, and ends with Bisorjon, the immersion of the idol of the goddess in a river. In fact, according to her, Bisorjon is a big event in her community. Floral offering are paid to the goddess on all five days.
Interestingly, the mantras chanted are in a language which is a mash of Bhojpuri, Avadhi and Maithili – the regions from where most Indians arrived in Suriname during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Aashna Wandani Radha Kanhai has Bengali ancestry, the reason for the grand Durga Puja celebrations in a place so far away from Bengal. According to her, the mother of her great grandfather carried the tradition of Durga Puja to her in-laws’ house in Gorakhpur. As the family later moved to Suriname as indentured labourers, so did the tradition of celebrating Durga Puja in all its glory; a glory the family has held on to even today, and helped spread among the community.
Feature image: udpcdelhi.com