Better late than never?  Certainly this proved true in our case as the  Visionalist crew became aware of the important Durga Puja held at Northern High School in Commerce on Saturday, October 4.  Sponsored by Bichitra, Inc. and organized by a Bengali team led by Bichitra President Sarmistha Mukherjee.  Bichitra, Inc. is a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Bengali culture in Detroit and neighboring communities.

Although we heard about the Durga Puja late, we have to come to recognize the importance of this festival to the Bengali community, and are certainly not about to miss out on a homemade spread of Indian delicacies.  The solemnity of the ceremony, the pageantry of the costumes and the succulence of meal did not disappoint.

Durga Puja is widely celebrated in West Bengal and Tripura where it is a five-day annual holiday.  Here, according to Rita Bhattacharyya of Bichitra, the festival is consolidated into a day and a half of worship and celebration.  It’s treated with the same sense of joy and anticipation, not only as the biggest Hindu festival for the Bengalis, but as the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society.

There are nearly 600 Bengali families currently living in the Detroit area.  Prantosh Nag, an economics professor at Schoolcraft College, was on hand to answer further questions about the religious significance of Durga.  The goddess is considered by Hindus to be the mother of Ganesh and Kartikeya and is the fierce, demon-fighting form of Shiva's wife, goddess Parvati.

Durga is often depicted as the warrior aspect of Devi Parvati, shown with ten arms, riding a lion or a tiger.  She carries weapons and assumes mudras, or symbolic hand gestures.
According to Professor Nag, Durga is the embodiment of feminine and creative energy and is believed to be exceedingly beautiful with lush hair, a red-golden glow from her skin and a quarter moon on her forehead.





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