Durga Puja In Singapore

Posted on October 14, 2010

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Durga Puja is a nine-day Hindu festival celebrating the victory of good over evil through the worship of nine different forms of the goddess Durga, known as Ma Durga, or Mother Durga. The festival is held twice a year, in April-May and in September-October, depending on the lunar calendar.

Food forms an important part of the festival, with many special dishes prepared. I was on the lookout for something with the delightful name of bhog, a meal offered to all after the goddess has taken her share. Sure enough, a bindied lady swept by with a platter of bhog, sweet, sticky and delicious.

Durga Puja is considered one of — if not the — biggest festival in West Bengal. This Durga Puja was organised by the Bengali Association Singapore, which thoughtfully even provided a jumping castle for the kids. My Indian friend’s eyebrows nearly shot off her face when I jokingly asked if the giant inflatable castle was a traditionally Indian thing. Whatever its origin, it was a hit.

Participating in the festival involves dressing up in your finest attire, cooking your best dishes and taking the family down to the celebration area. We missed the home-cooked food, apparently that’s a feature of the first day of the festival. We did see lots of shimmery shiny saris and colourful salwar kameez. There was enough food laid out under the giant marquee for me to plan a return visit this weekend, with darling man and the beautiful baby.

We only stayed a short time, just scoping things out. We saw a couple of kids dance for the goddess and two sari-clad ladies. Then a young boy, in shorts and a stripey t-shirt, stepped into the dancing area. He looked distinctly out of place until the band struck up again. He bent down to collect a small bowl, then ducked and stepped gracefully, making the bowl swoop and sway.

“He’s pretty good,” my friend said.

The music ended and the crowd applauded. The boy, suddenly embarrassed, skipped off the stage and ran up to his mother. She bent down and whispered something in his ear, causing him to spin around and leap back into the dancing area. He performed a quick bow to the goddess and rushed offstage again, as the crowd chuckled and let out a collective “awwwww”.

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