Sydney celebrates Saraswati Pujo with first female priest

Indranil Halder

The Bengali Association of NSW ( BANSW) has marked the commencement of the new 2022 school year with Saraswati Pooja.

It was held in auspicious occasion of Vasant Panchami after a gap of two years. People from different parts of India attended the event across Sydney to worship the Goddess of Wisdom. It was the first one, I went to, in Berowra Community Centre.

At the community centre, I was welcomed by Tonoy Ghosh (President of BANSW), priest Basab Roy and friend Arup Dutta. It was not too long, before I meet Satch Bhattachary with his family, Deepamita Dutta with her visiting parents from India and Sangram Banerjee with his family. All ready for the celebration.

There were several other Saraswati poojas held in different parts of Sydney such as Redgum Community Centre in Wentworthville by Australian Bengali Hindu Association , Lalor Park Community Centre in Lalor Park by Diya Das and Ingleburn Community Centre by Bengali committee members such as Sumit Halder. And first Saraswati pooja organised by Anandadhara group in Sydney.

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A day full of cultural celebrations with performances of song, dance and poetry was organised in various parts of Sydney. We were also excited to witness history being made, as one of our own, Sydney resident Priya Chakrabarty from Indian French town of Chandanagar, West Bengal performing her very first Saraswati pooja as priest in the Southern Hemisphere. She did it under steward leadership of Diya Das at Lalor Park Community Centre. And as Debi Chaudhury stated on Australian Bong Connection, “Indeed a proud moment. Congratulations !”.

Wearing yellow as the colour of choice, Bengalis gathered at homes and community centres with family and friends to celebrate the day. I drove my Jaguar from one community centre to another in my new dhoti/kurta by Kolkata based Indian designer Sambuddha Chatterjee. Meeting people, trying the tasty food and enjoying pooja rituals was the only way for me to feel the nostalgic celebration of Saraswati pooja across Sydney. As for others, it was the fun of remembering Saraswati pooja as Bengali Valentine’s Day and meeting someone special.

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Many posts of Saraswati pooja celebrations across Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane were also upload on social media. It is also reported in New Zealand, Saraswati Pujo was performed by two women Pradipta Mukherjee and her close friend Debjani Mukherjee at Tauranga and all I can say is , “Long live the Saraswati Pujo celebration in Land DownUnder and New Zealand.

May the Goddess of Wisdom blesses everyone to be learned and be change makers for better future.”