As India plans to celebrate Diwali the festival of lights early next month, Bengal emerged out of the darkness and welcomed Maa Kali on the eve of Deepavali to commemorate the culture and ritual of women power, as she is the quintessential embodiment of Shakti (women power) in Hindu mythology.
After a gap last year due to the pandemic, the majority of the Bengali diaspora in the U.K. under the aegis of an all-women organisation called the Heritage Bengal Global (HBG) went back to Diwali’s roots this year with the focus on the essence of Shakti’s triumph over evil. And it was the theme of this year’s celebration of ‘Diwali on Trafalgar Square’ on Saturday 23rd October organised by the office of the Mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan towards celebrating the cultural diversity in London.
HBG showcased Bengal’s fervour of Kali Puja with the introduction of the traditional heritage of Alpana artwork, wherein the theme was coming back into the light – the triumph of good over evil after the severe trauma of covid in the last one and half years. All participants in this event joined in a best rangoli competition, where the selected ones were laid next to the stunning rangoli centrepiece, managed by the Greater London Authority who was one of the main organisers.
The showpiece ‘Alpana’ artwork of Bengal on a red base was presented by Heritage Bengal Global’s vice president Mahua Bej. In other performances of the evening, Senjuti Dass and Anashmita Saha rendered dance performances.
The other highlight showcased by HBG was the screening of a video on Bengal which depicted how Kolkata and the state gradually had been trying to come back into the light with covid restrictions post lockdowns. This video wouldn’t have been possible without the untiring efforts of the members of Heritage Bengal Global, U.K. namely Arijit Sarkar, Tithi Sen, Debdeep Sen, Kaushik Lahiri, Mousumi Lahiri, Subhadeep Bose, Rahul Dasgupta, Pushali Bera and Yachna.
The Directors of HBG Mr. Pradip Chopra who is also the founder Chairman of the iLEAD Institute in Kolkata and Mr. Anirban Mukhopadhyay, both emphasised that this event was part of their continuous endeavour to promote and showcase the rich cultural heritage of Bengal globally. And the Mayor of London’s programme perfectly fitted into the religious and cultural aspects of the Diwali celebration with the richness and grandeur of the festivities. Further on Heritage Bengal Global would also be looking towards developing more collaboration with the Mayor of London for similar cultural initiatives.
The Mayor of Kolkata, Mr. Firhad Hakim also communicated his best wishes to this event, which also had performances from London and beyond with various stories of Indian art and culture which were beamed on the giant screen set up at the Square.
Mr. Subir Das, Secretary of Bhowanipur 75 Palli Durga Puja at Kolkata and who spearheaded the very first Bengal – Britain cultural collaboration in 2018 along with Durga idol making in London with the water of Thames and parallelly in Kolkata with the water of Ganges, had wished this event a great success and invited Londoners to see Kolkata, the sweetest part of India.