By Indranil Halder
No Durga Idol. No Food Stall. No face to face adda or chin wagging. Sydney is still in lockdown. Online live 2021 Durga pujo cultural show was staged by Bandana Cultural School.
Dr Tanima Banerjee:
Dr. Tanima Born was brought up in Indian city of Dhanbad. As scientist, Dr Banerjee had done research in cardiovascular disease from CSIR Indian Institute Of Chemical Biology, Kolkata. She has also learnt calligraphy , dancing and drama. In 2018, she created Bandana Cultural School in Australia. With the arrival of Covid-19 , she quickly switched on to on-line cultural mentoring. Successfully and diligently sharing her knowledge and talent with Indian diaspora across the globe. Today, her online cultural mentoring expanded to Canada, USA and to several cities in Australia and India.
Bandana Cultural School(BCS):
Dr Tanima Banerjee named her school after her mother. She is her inspiration. BCS has already taken many initiatives to connect Indian diaspora children in Australia with children in India. Many such collaboration Initiatives by BSC includes International Students exchange program with Mentorx, India , Teachers’ day with Mahaveer Senior Model School, New Delhi, and Hindi Diwas with Jain Samnopasak School, New Delhi. BCS also has several projects in the pipeline which include Diwali to be celebrated with Happy Jain School, New Delhi and Children Day with Beti Foundation ( NGO for under privileged kids), New Delhi. BCS also celebrated virtual Durga Puja online live cultural event on 10 October 2021 too.
BCS celebrated 2021 Durga Puja:
In Sydney, due to pandemic lockdown, BCS online live cultural event was a great celebration of Durga pujo festive season. It was on Panchami or the 5th day of the Durga pujo. It was a chance for BCS students who were missing their live performances due to pandemic lockdown. The celebration involved children rehearsals with their parents, performances and enjoying virtual Durga pujo moments from various parts of the globe. The event was an opportunity to share the Indian traditions and culture with the younger generation of Indian Diaspora (who are either born in Australia or any place across the globe other than India). The presentation of such event is also to help raise awareness about celebrations in India and engage the next generation to India’s rich cultural heritage.
BCS students showcased their talents in live art, recitation, music, dance & calligraphy. Even though, many of them are from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds but their love for learning Bengali culture was successfully highlighted in this virtual event.
The event was attended by many including Mr Suman Saha the councillor-Cumberland Council Sydney and myself (a traditionist caring Bengali Culture across the Globe and an Ambassador for Multicultural Mental Health Foundation & Fabric of Multicultural Australia) as guests. Durga puja is believed to be the celebration of Durga visiting her parental home with her beloved children. It was a perfect opportunity to celebrate Durga pujo moment with children’s online live cultural event to harness the concept of family as part of the festival. Pandemic has been a challenge for children too. We were also delighted to see Arti’s caliograpjy( Sydney, Australia ) , Sree Gopani’s dance ( India) and Saxophone played by Nyah Mutalik (British Columbia Canada). It was great initiative by BSC for a virtually trip by us diasporas to see the Naktala Udayan Sangha Durga Puja 2021 in Kolkata, India. The Hindu newspaper in India reported about this exclusive pandal, “on the occasion of Mahalaya, inaugurated Naktala Udayan Sangha in south Kolkata among other pandals, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.” Theme of the pandal was Hindus leaving their belonging in their homeland in East Pakistan during independence ie 1947-48 and making their way to West Bengal. It is so timely when Dr Rituparna Pal is organising first Partition Museum and exhibitions highlight the, ‘The Legacy of Loss: Perspectives on the Partition of Bengal’ in Kolkata.
Even adults celebration the connection to Durga pujo from different parts of the world.
In Sydney resident Dr Yash Paul Chawla’s ( ex employee of Bhart Electric, India) speech was very inspiring. We were delighted to hear his journey down the memory lane with Bengali colleagues and Durga pujo celebration. Dr. Chawla’s guidance was paramount for the BSC celebration of 2021 Durga pujo online cultural event. We also enjoyed Monimala’s luchi making (Melbourne, Australia ) and cooking Bengalis favourite dishes during the online event.
It is no doubt that BCS is empowering next generation of children to develop for tomorrow and keeping them in touch with our heritage. This will reduce the chance of them being ethnically misfit. Guests from Australia and across the globe also received Certificate of Appreciation for attending the event. It was an extraordinary celebration and according to Shubha Kumar ,”The program is flowing beautifully. Every item is filled with devotion , colour and vibrancy”. We witnessed a great celebration of Bengali heritage Durga pujo online cultural event by Bandana Cultural School.