Kalibari provides taste of Bengali Durga Puja

The Bengalis in Sambalpur have stayed rooted to their tradition and rituals for almost a century. And the assault of 21st century has not deviated them from their way of celebrating Durga Puja that was started by their forefather with the building of the ‘Kalibari’ here in 1918.

The 94-year-old ‘Kalibari’ has become the epicentre for the Bengalis in the town and every member of the community gathers at the place to worship Maa Durga during the almost week-long festivities. “We are thankful to our forefather who purchased the land and established ‘Kalibari’ in 1918. Though we conform to our own tradition and culture in performing the puja, we welcome people of other communities to join in our celebrations every year,” the secretary of the Kalibari trust committee, Bimal Chandra Kar, said.

“We do not remember when Durga Puja began to be celebrated by Bengalis in Sambalpur, but the puja is being celebrated uninterruptedly since the building of ‘Kalibari’ in 1918,” Kar added.

Durga Puja has been quite a popular festival all over the town and people here celebrate the occasion in their own way. There are as many as 100 Durga Pujas being performed this year. A few of the puja committees have, in fact, built permanent structures to conduct puja throughout the year. Organizers in Golebazar, Badbazar and Pirbaba Chowk have constructed Durga temples for the purpose.

Committees in Govindtola, Dhanupali, Fatak, Ainthapali, Dukupara, Dhuturapara, Laxmi Talkies and Zilla School chowks, in their bid to attract more visitors this time, have hosted pujas with huge budgets this year.

‘Kalibari’, however, has a special attraction among the pandal-hoppers, as it provides a taste of Bengali tradition and rituals in the performing of the puja. People from other communities, including the Odia localites, come to take part in the Durga Puja at ‘Kalibari’.

“Even a few Bengali families from Kolkata come every year and join in our puja as they feel that we have been able to keep alive our age-old tradition in performing puja,” a senior member of the organizing committee, Shibasis Sarkar, said.

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