Major festival Durga Puja to be celebrated in Kingston for the first time

One of the largest festivals in India will be celebrated in Kingston for the first time this weekend. President of the newly formed Kingston Durga Puja committee Vid Banerjee says traditionally, the Bengali community would have to go to either Ottawa or the GTA for Durga Puja festivities.

“Kingston has hosted Bengalis as Queen’s students and as community members for over 70 years. To say that this Puja has taken a long time in coming to Kingston would be truly spot on,” says Banerjee.

Banerjee explains Durga Puja is a festival honouring the Hindu goddess Durga.

“It is considered an important harvest festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil in the form of a female divinity….Goddess Durga defeats Mahishasur the Buffalo demon…in many ways it’s the worshiping of divinity in the female form," says Banerjee.

The celebrations in India run over 10 days, with the festival running for five days between Oct. 1-5, a period which Durga is believed to visit Earth. In Kingston the festival will occur in a 12 hour period.

“Being in Canada has its own set of challenges in trying to coordinate the times and dates when people are available, Sunday coinciding with two of the dates in India because we have a 12 hour time gap we are able to cover two days of festivity…We had to really pack down the date full of the individual Puja offering and events,” says Banerjee.

The day will begin with an offering of flowers and food to the goddess.

“It is perceived that the goddess is partaking of the food and offerings that we are providing to her. Once she partakes..that offering is distributed among the people who are gathered, because this is coinciding with two dates…we would have a second offering in the evening,” says Banerjee.

The Durga Puja celebration will be this Sunday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. at Zorba’s Banquet Centre, 1474 Bath Rd. in Kingston. Banerjee says it is a free event and we are open to all.

“Even though the program itself has religious overtones to it, we want everyone to come and experience, because largely it is a community gathering...When I look at it from the perspective of how the community feels, the overwhelming support that we got this time tells us we need to continue with the tradition," says Banerjee.

More information and registration can be found on the committee’s Facebook page.

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