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Canon versus Nikon. Sony versus Everyone Else. Original Equipment Manufacturer versus Third Party. We all know the world of photography generates a lot of endless debates that circle the Web. Another source of passions and opinions is: The Watermark.

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And although Durga is in a very difficult situation — she comes from a very poor family, she is not educated herself — she is determined to send her daughter to college in Kolkata. My first Puja in the US was spent in a school hall. They too do it on a weekend, so that the maximum of people come. The cultural programmes in the evening are of a very high quality. Also, I was living on campus Wright State Universityso there was even less of Indian culture at that time.

I missed that so much in Dayton! And they take their puja very seriously!

As kolkata dresses up like a queen for durga puja, and our hearts beat to the dhaak's rhythm, what about the kolkatan living far from home?

Someone would chant them and then we would do the anjali. Durga bari will usually do it after Puja, and the Vedanta Society will usually do it before Dashami. I am very interested and energised and inspired by the whole idea of the Goddess who is the warrior — she is taking charge, she is destroying evil — and I love the fact that in Bengal we have the Mother Goddess who is also the Warrior Goddess. So, of course, I missed India, especially during Durga Puja. The puja in Durga bari is very nice because of the cultural aspects and the puja in the Vedanta Society is very nice because it is very spiritual.

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I experienced the heady festivity of Durga Puja that is unique to Kolkata quite late, actually. Pretty window displays beckoned shoppers already laden with large bags. In Kolkata, during Durga Puja, the whole city is festive, everybody is festive. They were more interested in bhog and socialising and hosting the play. In fact, as a high schooler and a college kid, I used to help out a lot with the puja, I really liked doing that. It is wonderful because we can, at least, continue to have those festivals, but it is also a realisation, every time, that it is never really going to be the same.

And I noticed that the pandal was the place where boys and girls would keep an eye out for each other. We had a tiny little Durga murti and there was no bisarjan after the puja. There would be a stage on the other side of the pandal and every evening there would be performances by the people of the para locality.

Right after my undergraduate days at Presidency College — I was about 19 years old then — I moved to Dayton, Ohio, for further studies. The organisers put up many cultural events. The older people in the community who had lived in the US longer liked it, but I did not… it just seemed so like not -Puja to me, it just did not satisfy me at all. Our whole family would go and sit in the maath fieldand all my friends would come, too. I also loved to sit and watch the actual puja, I loved the smell of the incense, the smell of dhunoand then the arati in the evening — all of that was quite special for me.

My hope and my thinking is that having the Goddess right at the heart of our culture gives us women extra strength. When I was younger, my father moved around a lot, so we were in different cities. Back home, we would always wake up for Mahalaya, and gather around the radio to listen to Mahishasura Mardini and agomoni gaan early in the morning.

It is so powerful and empowering. I made up for all the missed Durga Puja fun in my last two years of school and then my college years.

The bittersweet

They hire cooks to come and prepare a real Kolkata-style feast, now we have all those resources available. And right after that when they had Christmas here, all the stores would be full of Christmas stuff, and I would walk around and miss the real Durga Puja — a whole community, a whole culture, a whole city sharing the same thing — even more.

The whole town was wreathed in twinkling lights. That was all. And then, of course, we would have the amateur performers. One of the Bengalis would bring out a book of mantras they had carried back from India. Happy faces everywhere, laughter, music and cheer filled the air. They do a very nice Durga Puja. I remember being very homesick during Durga Puja.

There would be Indian dances by children who were taught by one of the mothers. So, I see the strength of the Goddess in women like her. So there is a real sense of people wanting to know themselves but also for their next generation to know the meaning of all this. At each mandap, there will be someone explaining the rituals in English for the children.

It was Christmastime in America. At that time, Kolkata was much more conservative, and there was not much of an opportunity for you to meet people of the other sex Now, I live in a bigger American city — Houston in Texas. It was an American town with a pretty small Indian community, and a very small Bengali community. I liked going to the mandap in the morning, when I would help with the alpana on the ground and then I would chop up fruits and help out with other puja preparations.

They would do a one-day puja, more like a one-afternoon puja, and there was neither purohit nor dhaaki.

I could see that it gave people a lot of pleasure to be able to do that much. Celebrating your culture in a foreign land can be bittersweet. In Kolkata our family was always interested, but many of my friends would only come in the evenings for the very last arati and stay for prasad or bhog. Her work has appeared in over 50 publications and been included in over 50 anthologies.

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They would have little performances, and Bengali food would be cooked by the ladies, and everybody would eat together after offering anjali. Either it was the weekend before Puja, or usually, it was the one after. Beyond the festivities and fun of Durga Puja, there is the worship of the Goddess. It was a lot of fun. We immigrants, at that time, were thankful for whatever customs we could recreate. She tweets at cdivakaruni.

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My best memories of Durga Puja are from when we came back to live in Kolkata, when I was in my final years of school. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Published Durga Puja in Singapore Shiraj Choudhury. There is a priest who does the puja every day — puja in the morning and arati in the evening And on the weekend, they have a special anjali for everyone.

At that time midsBengalis from three or four towns around Dayton would get together and organise Durga Puja on a weekend because that was the only time people could come. Their hope is that the next generation will continue with it. I remember clearly how Kolkata transforms itself, almost into another city, during Puja, and I really remember all the excitement, all the new clothes in the shops, all the decorations everywhere, and going from pandal to pandal looking at the Durga pratima We lived in New Alipore, so we had our own puja in our neighbourhood, and we were very involved with that.

It is heartening to see how Bengalis have created a community here; they have very good friends, they come together to celebrate Puja, and their involvement is very hands-on. The moment one stepped out of that room, there was no Durga Puja. In fact, I think the people attend the pujas here much more seriously.

But here, I think people are very interested in continuing the culture, so they make it a point to bring their children, from the time they are little, to the cultural events and the puja. And that for me, is my special connection with the Goddess, as a Bengali and as a woman.

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In my books, I try to bring out that aspect of womanhood. And it made me miss Durga Puja — and Kolkata — even more. They bring a drama troupe from Kolkata, or professional singers. Tags: Book Excerpt Durga Puja. But it was nice that we could do at least that.