Being away from home is hard enough, and to be away while everyone back home is celebrating the biggest festival in your faith … that’s something else!
Empowered by a London tube map and the findings from Google search, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I braved the weather in search of — Durga Puja. As luck would have it, I found one just a few minutes walk from King’s Cross Station. The London Durga Puja Committee at Camden Centre is full of hearty Bengalis who welcome you with open arms and a good laugh.
Durga Puja is the celebration of Good over Evil. Legend has it, when the Good (Gods) were attacked by the Evil (Asuras), all the Gods got together and created the mighty Goddess Durga and empowered her with unique powers (and weapons) from each one of them. The Goddess fought brave against all the Evil (Asuras) and killed the Evil king, Mahisasur who disguised himself in the form of a buffalo. Every year she descends to the Earth to visit her worshipers with her children, Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth), Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of literature and music), Lord Ganesha (God of luck and prosperity) and Lord Kartikeyan (God of warfare). The five day celebrations are marked by daily pujas, offerings and much fanfare in the East India state of Bengal.
I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was to have found myself amidst the familiar … the language, the colors, the faces, the jewelry, the bindis, the costumes … I was HOME.
What is a Durga Puja without the quintessential ‘bhog’?! Just a few steps away from the main puja center laid a buffet of Kosha Mangsho (lamb curry), Chicken Biriyani (spiced rice), Daal (lentil soup), Phoolkopir tarkari (cauliflower curry), Aloo Kabuli Chana (masala chick-pea), Mango Chutney, Pickles and Rasgullas!!!
Bengali food HEAVEN! 😀