Oikotan Durga Pujo 2023 – Celebrating harmony and connection between Kolkata and Brisbane

Oikotan Durga Pujo 2023 – Celebrating harmony and connection between Kolkata and Brisbane Oikotan Inc. (formerly Oikotan) recently organised the third edition of its most significant festival on the 28th and 29th of October 2023 at the Albany Creek Community Centre. “Durga Pujo” this year was made special by the theme and the introduction of guest performer, Ujaan Mukherjee who is up and coming singer from Kolkata. The baby is growing and 2023 marked an exceptional year in the journey they set out on, where more people joined in along with dignitaries from the state government, local council and other associations.

Making of and setting up Pandal – The Brisbane and Kolkata Connection
This year, the theme was based on a rather challenging (the most to date) connection between the two most important cities for most of the participants, members, and organisers – Kolkata and Brisbane. Most of the members of Oikotan Inc. belong to the city of joy, Kolkata and life has brought them to Brisbane. After days of brainstorming and model building, the team finally decided to portray the connection between the two cities through the artwork and installations (also known as pandals).
Months of relentless hard work and dedication went into turning the concept into a reality. With the use of curtains, ropes, cutouts, and wedding arches and after countless trips to Bunnings, what the team managed to put up and showcase caught the attention of not only the participants but also social media followers and the dignitaries.

Oikotan Durga Pujo 2023_cParticipants and important Dignitaries
Oikotan Durga Pujo 2023 saw representation from both the state government in Tim Mander, state member for Everton and Cath Tonks from the City of Moreton Bay. The final day was graced by the presence of Swami Atmeshananda from Vedanta Centre, Brisbane and Usha Chanda and Umesh Chanda representing GOPIO (Global Organization of People of Indian Origin), Brisbane Indian Times and Australian Indian Radio.

Oikotan Durga Pujo 2023_ePujo Rituals and Food
With the introduction of a 2-day affair, day 1 marked the observation of boron(welcoming of Maa Durga) and Saptami Puja. Day 2 comprised Ashtami, Anjali and Nabami puja followed by Dashami Puja, immersion(Bhashan in Bengali) and Boron. While the highlight from day 1 was Kolabou(Banana tree, another form of goddess Durga) bathing, day 2 was made special by the traditional ritual of bidding farewell to the goddess by the women. Women draped in red and white sarees (the theme introduced his year) took part in the “Sindur Khela”, applying vermillion on the idol’s face and feet with betel leaf, offering sweets and smearing each other with “sindur”.
No puja is complete without bhog, prasad (prasad) and non-vegetarian spreads(a must of Bengalis during Pujo). A quintessential Bengali spread comprising of khichuri, begun, chutney and mishti brought smiles to the faces of the participants at lunch while the star of the show, mutton(a must for Bengalis became one of the main attractions of the final day/day 2.

Competition and Cultural Program
Among many new initiatives, Team Oikotan proudly organised puja-related competitions for participants in three different categories. After some close battles, two of the very best were crowned champions and won exciting prizes.
Cultural programs in its second year saw an overwhelming response from participants who showcased their singing, dancing and acting skills. From Gulaabi Aakhei to Ami je tomar, evergreen/retro/Bollywood, there was something for everyone regardless of age.
Finally what made this year’s Pujo was the fact that Oikotan Inc. hosted Ujaan Mukherjee, a budding young singing star from Kolkata who made her debut in Brisbane and made the members and participants get up and dance and lent her voice to all of our favourite songs, ending the festival on a high with the promise – “Aschhe Bochhor Abar Hobe”(Next year it will happen again.

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