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London: UK soaks in Kolkata's Durga Puja fervour

London: UK soaks in Kolkata
Highlights

A sprawling Durga puja pandal set up in a cricket ground in Britain's Slough town has recreated the ambience of Kolkata's crowd-pulling Maddox Square, as the five-day festival commenced on Friday in different parts of the UK.

London (PTI): A sprawling Durga puja pandal set up in a cricket ground in Britain's Slough town has recreated the ambience of Kolkata's crowd-pulling Maddox Square, as the five-day festival commenced on Friday in different parts of the UK.

The pandal at the cricket ground in Slough, a town in Berkshire county, is quite unprecedented in the UK as the pujas in the country usually take place in community halls or hotels and not in an open ground, said Prasenjit Bhattacharjee of Adda, an organisation of expatriate Bengalis which is organising the puja. The pandal is of 110 ft x 70 ft x 25 ft size and adorned with handicrafts of different states like Assam, Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, apart from West Bengal.

To add more to the ambience of Maddox Square and other Kolkata pujas like Baghbazar Sarbojonin and Park Circus Sarbojonin, an exclusive Kolkata food court has been set up on the Slough ground where visitors can savour Kolkata 'phuchka', 'bhetki machher chop', 'vegetable chop', chicken/mutton/egg roll and biryani cooked in Kolkata style, Bhattacharjee said.

A spokesman of Maddox Square Puja in Kolkata said, "We are happy that some of our friends, living in the UK, are bringing the ambience of Maddox Square in their puja at Slough. This shows our puja has become a brand." The Durga puja celebrations are also being held in other parts of the UK with different themes. London Durgotsav Committee in north London has a theme entitled "Your Durga, My Durga" based on a poem written by writer Subrata Paul.

"The theme emphasises the grit and harshness women face, especially in the Indian society, and paints a stark, contrasting picture of the colour, pomp and glitter that is seen during a festival," says Mainak Roy, Trustee of London Durgotsav Committee. The idols for the puja celebrations at Swiss Cottage Library in London are made by sculptor Pradyut Pal and shipped from Kumortuli in West Bengal. The fibre glass idols are designed to retain all the traditional aesthetics of Durga idols in India.

The charity aims to support organisations in India through its events, including the Ragpickers Association in Kolkata. The London Borough of Camden, which hosts the festivities annually, expects thousands to turnout during the course of the devotional events until mid-next week.

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