Home away from home. That’s how Bangkok resident Kakoli Majumder describes the flavour of the 27-year-old Durga Puja that is organised by The Bengali Association of Thailand, named Bharati Thailand, that was born in 1986. She tells t2online about the USP of this Puja and why she hasn’t missed the Calcutta puja fervour ever since she shifted to Bangkok five years back.
I am originally from Calcutta and I moved here about five years ago. They are very warm and endearing. The Indian community is not as huge as Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for that matter, but it is a close-knit community and the Bengali community representation in the Indian diaspora is also strong. The Shondhi Puja is very different here. The hall where it is held is adorned with a banana leaf design. The motif may be a pradip or Ma’s eyes. There are earthen lamps placed on it and every lady gets a chance to light the lamp. It is a very different experience. Our purohit and idol are from Calcutta. Agomoni always finds a special place.
The menu is completely Bengali and barring the pandemic, the cook is also from Calcutta. Panchami and Dashami have non-vegetarian menus. We have a separate celebration for Vijaya Dashami. We take the cultural programmes seriously. Rehearsals start in July. Even during the pandemic, we had online cultural activities and Puja. In 2020, we couldn’t get the idol, but worshipped a giant patachitra. Last year, we sent our representatives to the priest’s house in Budge Budge, West Bengal, and the entire ceremony was telecast online. We also offered anjali online.
On his recent visit to Thailand, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had recommended efforts to promote the culture of different tribes of India. Keeping this in mind, Bharati Thailand organised a special fashion show as part of the Durga Puja celebrations that celebrated the indigenous dresses of tribes across India. Called ‘The Diverse Colours of Folk India’, it was held at the India-Thai Chamber of Commerce. I too took part. We even sourced a Chhau dance mask for the show. For the kids, most of them go to international schools, but we try in our own way to help them stay connected to their roots. They too take part in cultural activities. We had a biryani party on Panchami. The immersion is also interesting. We really can’t immerse the idol here like it happens in Bengal, for environmental reasons. They take the big idols in a container-like ship and some members accompany them. The smaller set of idols are taken in a long tail boat to Chao Phraya River for immersion.Source: https://t2online.in/goodlife/travel/bharati-thailand-s-durga-puja-in-bangkok-is-a-slice-of-calcutta/130713
Kakoli has a background in English communication and training and works in the Higher Education sector as a community builder and academic publication coach. A mum of two, Kakoli is currently an empty-nester who’s ticking off her bucket-list – travelling, writing, ziplining, freelancing as a voice artist, volunteering at a cat cafe – basically grabbing all that life has to offer.