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Homecoming time for West Bengal and its Goddess

Sep 26, 2022

KOLKATA: You can take a Kolkatan away from the city but you can’t wrench out the Durga Puja spirit from a Kolkatan’s heart, the craving to be a part of the revelry and the yearning to join the festivities, especially after the Covid-induced two-year break that saw muted celebrations. 

Phirey Esho Kolkata, an initiative by The Times of India, creates an emotional connect with people passionate about the city, those who have migrated to different parts of the world but have taken and established the spirit of the celebrations with them wherever they now live. 

As the goddess comes home, we, too, return home to celebrate. We miss those who can’t make it back to the city and share the happiness, excitement and the enthusiasm with which we are all looking forward to this puja. 

‘Maa Aaschen Tumi Kothaye’ is a celebration of the feeling of belonging, of togetherness and of reaching out to your near and dear ones, who can’t be with you in Kolkata this year but is as much a part of the celebrations wherever they are. The idea is to remind them that they are with you in this festive period and that is the real essence of Durga Puja. 

Sarod player Tejendra Narayan Majumdar wishes he could spend the puja with old friend and fellow sarod player Manas Chakraborty. The latter gave up sarod and settled in Dallas, USA, in the Eighties. “I re-connected with him when Tanmoy Bose and I toured America in 1993. Since then, we have been regularly in touch. If he knows I am playing in San Francisco, he will happily take a flight from Dallas and come over to listen to my recital. We bond so well. It doesn’t really matter if I am giving anjali here in Kolkata while he is playing the dhaak in Dallas. Tui jekhane, pujo sekhanei — that’s how I feel,” said Majumdar. 

Chandrabindoo singer and film-maker Anindya Chatterjee is looking forward to reuniting with Philadelphia-based friend Sougato Chatterjee. It was in 2005 that Anindya, also an actor, met Sougato, a chemical engineer and a music lover. “Whenever I am touring the US, he is the one who does all our sound arrangements. I literally park myself at his residence whenever I am in the US. This time around, I will not be in Kolkata during Durga Puja. Chandrabindoo is on an eight-city tour of the US. Sougato will be there with us for most of our shows. Being away from Kolkata during Durga Puja doesn’t mean that I will be away from all the festivities. For me, puja is where you are,” said Anindya. 

Danseuse Tanushree Shankar is pining to reunite, albeit virtually, with daughter Sreenanda who is based in Mumbai. “Every year, I do video calls with her to show her how we are celebrating the pujas in Kolkata. She, too, would go over to the Powai puja. Of course, we pined for each other. But we also learnt how to bask in the festival spirit wherever we were.” 

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