The second annual Thames Durga Parade organised by not-for-profit Heritage Bengal Global (HBG) culminated in the Bijoya Sammilani celebration of Dashami, the last day of Puja, with a splendid Durga idol display on the deck of a double-decker boat.
Swaying to the beats of the dhaak (drums) and kansor ghonta (cymbal), the river parade over the weekend resonated with traditional bhatiali song and dance. Besides HBG members, the parade brought together the new British Deputy High Commissioner to Kolkata, Andrew Fleming, and his immediate predecessor Nick Low, who were joined by members of the British Civil Service, Army and Royal Air Force.
Also aboard were Chairman of the Cultural Committee of the City of London Council Munsur Ali, Harrow ex-Mayor Councillor Suresh Kumar and Mayoress Sasi along with Harrow Councillor Matthew Goodwin Freeman. Noted Tollywood actor-filmmaker Soumyajit Majumdar was among those dancing along to the folk beats of singer Sourav Moni. Aimed at promoting Kolkata Durga Puja as a global tourism destination, HBG described the 2023 Thames Durga Parade as a “game changer” for the diaspora’s pujo fervour with several Indian state associations joining hands.
HBG President Anirban Mukhopadhyay, who launched the parade in 2022, noted: “Last year we started this parade with one boat and this year we have doubled the participation with actual Durga idol display on the deck celebrating the final journey of Maa Durga to her husband’s abode on Dashami with culmination of the Bijoya Dashami celebration.
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“We are not far from the days when we would have more boats on the Thames parade to fulfil our objective of attracting more local people to watch this extravaganza, so to be inspired to visit Bengal during this annual festival in India and boost inward tourism into Kolkata and Bengal.”
On the UK-India partnership front, Secretary of Calcutta Rowing Club (estd 1858) Chandan Roy Choudhury and London Rowing Club (estd 1856) Secretary & Treasurer Phillip Carre announced a commemorative event to be organised in Kolkata next year.
Australia-based Indranil Halder – dubbed a globe-trotting Durga pandal hopper having visited Durga pujas in the US and around the UK over the past month – marked his grand finale with the Thames Durga Parade on October 28.
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Medway Oikatan Cultural Association (MOCA), which organised its first Durga Puja celebration in Medway, Kent, contributed to the parade by displaying their idol on the boat deck as part of promoting their debut. Bhowanipur 75 Palli Durga Puja along with Pointers Business Forum from Kolkata also participated in the parade this year.
*Info: Heritage Bengal Global