Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Bay Area Prabasi – Durgotsav 2021 | ‘Our Mother Kovidnashini’, last-minute preparation for Pujo, California’s oldest expatriate


#California: Preparations are now in full swing in the alleys of Kolkata. A group of boys from the neighborhood are going to each house in droves and coming with receipts. In one house the master may be paying the tribute, and in another house the master is saying very seriously, go now, come after Bishwakarma Pujo. Kumartuli is now busy at the last minute. Uma that is coming to her father’s house.

But where is Umar’s father’s house? In Calcutta? In Bangladesh? In India? In fact, wherever the daughter of a Bengali lives, Umar’s father’s house is probably there. And so, thousands of miles away from the country, Durgapujo, an expatriate from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, has turned 47 this time. Over the past two years, however, the whole world has changed in the face of a terrible epidemic! We still believe in the flight of light, our mother Kovidnashini.

I am a girl who grew up in a very muffled place. The course of life brought me to a continent of the first world, called America. There are no puja hoardings along major roads like in Kolkata, no picking up a bunch of hibiscus flowers on the morning walk. Since a month ago, there have been no bamboo poles in the neighborhoods, no pujo advertisements in the newspapers, no discussion on what the theme of a pujo is. But what is there is the anagona of clouds like cotton wool floating in the bright blue sky of autumn, which made the mind say that it was time to come to Umar’s father’s house. After the epidemic, we all want to return to normal life.

Preparations for Sandhipujo are like that every time.  108 blue lotuses were given to the goddess. Preparations for Sandhipujo are like that every time. 108 blue lotuses were given to the goddess

Most Indians in the Bay Area have been vaccinated. The first expatriate California club in the Bay Area to start the first Durga Puja in California in 1984.

Those of us who have not been to the United States for a long time, seeing the pujo of expatriates, the sadness of not being able to go to the pujo of Kolkata in an instant seems to have vanished. A month before the pujo, a discussion started among our Bengali friends, who is wearing the sari in this pujo. Like Kolkata, preparations for the puja have been going on for about three or four months now. Every week there is a discussion about Pujo meeting, program schedule, what kind of program it will be. This time too he has not changed. We are meeting, deep conspiracies are going on every day.

Decathlon of Bay Area Expatriates.  Preparations are underway. Decathlon of Bay Area Expatriates. Preparations are underway.

Bay Area is expatriate but not just a pujo committee. Expatriate is a non-profit organization in California that has repeatedly jumped into difficult situations throughout the year, in various parts of the United States and West Bengal. From the Amfan storm, to the Yash or Corona epidemic, Bay Area expatriates have jumped in all sorts of difficult situations. In the Corona situation, they raised money by creating a fund called Project Brid. Shri Sudipta Mukherjee, the present Chairman of Prabasi, made this project a success on his own initiative.

In his efforts, various Bengali clubs from San Francisco and many American states came forward. With the combined funds of each of them, 120 oxygen concentrators were sent under the leadership of Sudipta Mukherjee to various marginal areas of West Bengal, including Kolkata. Volunteers from expatriates in Kolkata visited the devastated area, and the helpless people there delivered food, clothing, triplets, medicines and other necessities.

Leaving the city of Calcutta, from this distant country, seeing the members of the country selflessly standing by the expatriate members in this difficult time, this conviction awakens in our minds, our next generation, who were born in America, are slowly growing up in this country. Putting, every member of the expatriate.

-Manideepa Das Bhattacharya

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