Its called ‘Durga Bari’, but accommodates every festival that is close to the Bengali’s heart, as the saying goes ‘Bangalir baro mashey tero parbon’. Among the tero parbon are the grand autumn festival, Durga Puja that is celebrated following rituals and traditions at Houston Durga Bari Society (HDBS), and following at the heels is Kali Puja that is also celebrated with the same enthusiasm and fervor.
All puja and rituals at HDBS are divided between working days and weekend celebrations. Since Kali Puja is on a Thursday, a ritualistic puja will be held at the temple on this day. However, most members and devotees will not be able to attend the puja. For the benefit of working professionals, a weekend puja will be organized on Friday and Saturday.
Along with Durga and her family, Kali, Radha-Krishna and Shiva idols are also installed at the temple. All pujas and religious activities are performed by the resident priest.
Bengalis of Houston congregate at HDBS to attend the puja and then get together to enjoy fireworks. Children are provided free fireworks from HDBS on that day and the display continues till late at night. Volunteers cook at the DurgaBari kitchen, and the food is then served among the devotees. Like Calcutta, a small fair or mela is also organized at HDBS where ladies sell sarees, jewellery, and Calcutta street food like fish fry and, of course, phuchka.
Founded in 2005 by Bengalis of Houston, HDBS emanates the Bengali culture and tradition, away from home. “Durga Puja and Kali Puja are the festivals we have grown up with since our childhood days. Living away from home, HBDS is our best attempt to maintain those traditions, in another country,” said Rakhee Bhattacharya Das, a member of Houston Durga Bari Society. HDBS’s popularity goes far and wide and attracts Bengalis from other states of USA as well. The society won the ‘Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman Award’ in 2015 from the West Bengal government for being the biggest puja in the West.
Cultural programmes are also scheduled after the Puja. Local talents and guest artistes who come from India. This year SaReGaMaPa winner Jimut Roy will regale audiences at HDBS. Houston talents will also a stage a play.