Indians celebrate Kali Puja in Sydney - for causes in IndiaOctober 28th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, Oct 28 (IANS) Kali Puja in Sydney has attained a deeper meaning for a group of young professional migrants, mainly Bengali, who have been celebrating the festival with much fanfare to raise funds for charitable projects in India.”We have all shared a dream of helping the less privileged sections of society in and around Kolkata. We feel, in our own small way, we can make a difference. This year we have been able to raise A$ 4,000 (Rs.123,925), which will go towards funding higher education for disadvantaged students and a mental asylum in Kolkata”, says Aditi Coomar, a town planner who migrated here with her husband, Indranil, five years ago.
“Growing up in India, I could appreciate the difficulties people faced to survive; so when I migrated to Australia, I was determined to help the community back home. Instead of donating to an organisation, I wanted to get directly involved and Kali puja was a good platform to get as many people as possible involved in a good cause,” Coomar told IANS.
Four young families formed ‘Iti Sydney’ three years ago and have since raised funds for various small projects back home.
From providing electricity to a slum in Santoshpur to donating two sewing machines to a vocational centre and sponsoring four students, including a girl from Labhpur in Birbhum district, who against all odds was able to secure a seat in Jalpaiguri Medical College, but was in desperate need of money to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.
About 500 members of the Indian community assembled at Roselea Community Centre in western Sydney over the weekend to offer prayers to Goddess Kali and also contribute for those in need of support.
“This year besides an array of traditional Bengali dishes, a major attraction was the ‘puchka’ stall, Kolkata style, which helped us raise another A$500 (Rs 15,490)”, says Debraj Sanyal, who migrated to Australia in 1997.
In the past three years, ‘Iti Sydney’ has been able to enlist the support of a growing team of volunteers. As Sudip Kundu says, “The event has given me an opportunity to celebrate our culture and at the same time contribute towards the larger community by supporting those who need our help the most”.
Agrees Divesh Singh, who hails from Fiji and migrated to Sydney with his Bengali wife, Rima, in 2000. “The cultural programme offers every one in the community an opportunity to showcase their talent and it is only befitting that the amount raised from it goes for a good cause.”
With enormous support from old and a growing number of new migrants, Dibyendu Dasgupta, coordinator for this year’s puja who migrated from Kolkata in 2000, says, “The festive spirit is all encompassing and even in these times of financial gloom, people are keen to contribute to charity.”
(Neena Bhandari can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)