Bengal’s biggest cultural celebration, the arrival of Ma Durga epitomizes the defeat of evil in the hands of the supreme reverent power. During this time the goddess returns her ancestral home with her four children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya.
According to the mythology she emerged from the collective power of lord Shiva, and Bramha and Vishnu in order to save the whole world from the tyranny of Mahishasura. Hence she is the saviour of the whole universe.
Her victory over the devil is celebrated with joy and merriment. So it is the celebration of colours, festivities, happiness while bringing all together. It breaks all the social and cultural barriers. People buy new clothes and jewellery to look their best.
This grand event is also celebrated all over the world. In countries like UK, Denmark, Finland in Europe Probasi Bengalis have been celebrated Durga puja with lot of grandeur and splendour. The small Bengali communities come together to organize puja over the weekends.
The puja organized here have the nostalgic feel. Also these pujas showcase the beautiful craftsmanship and artistry of Bengal. The pandals’ decorations themes show the cultural flavours, ethos and rich heritage of Bengal.
Also in the look of the idol they maintain the touch of tradition. Some may feature modern touch. Sometimes she is in simple graceful form, sometimes her anger is showered on the monster in ferocious way.
Durga Puja is organised by communities of Indians in Europe. Although pandals are not constructed, the sculptures are flown in from Kumartuli in Bengal. The desire by the diaspora peoples to keep in touch with their cultural ties has led to a boom in religious tourism, as well as learning from priests or purohits versed in the rites. From 2006, the immersion of the Durga sculpture has been allowed in the Thames river for the festival which is held in London.
In Germany several Durga Pujas are celebrated along with Bhog distribution and Anjali in Bremen, Berlin (over 40 years old), Frankfurt(Main), Hamburg, Köln (Cologne), Stuttgart and Munich (München).
In France, the Sammilani association has been celebrating Durga Puja in Paris for 28 years (as of 2014), for the whole five days of Mahashashti to Mahadashami. This festival, which includes diverse cultural programmes, is the social epicentre of Bengali Hindus in France and a major attraction for all others interested in Bengali and Indian culture.