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Organisers brave bandh, prepare for Durga Puja celebrations in Hills

Organisers brave bandh, prepare   for Durga Puja celebrations in Hills
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Darjeeling: The ongoing bandh will not be a deterrent to the Durga Pujas in the Hills steeped in tradition.
The organisers of the pujas in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong will be hosting the pujas like every other year. There was a lot of uncertainty revolving around the festival in Kurseong. On July 19 this year, the iconic Rajrajeshwari Hall was set on fire by unknown miscreants. The Hall was the venue of the Durga Puja in Kurseong which will hit the 101-year mark this year.
"As the Hall has been razed to the ground, the puja will take place in a pandal in the place where the Hall stood. The puja will be held on a very small scale this year owing to the ongoing indefinite strike. We have manpower constraints as well as monetary issues. However, we have decided to go ahead with the more than 100-year-old puja," stated Arun Mohan Ghosh, secretary of the Bengali Association of Kurseong. The Rajrajeshwari Hall under the Bengali Association of Kurseong had a rich history. Rai Bahadur Sashi Bhusan Dey had started a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kurseong, in memory of his late son who had died from this disease. While he was at Kurseong, the local Bengalis approached him for his patronage in constructing a Hall for the Bengali Association to meet.
Being a philanthropist, he built the Rajrajeshwari Hall in the name of his wife just below the TB sanatorium. Thus, the Rajrajeshwari Hall was built in 1930. The Durga Puja of the Bengali Association used to be organised at this place since 1930. 2016 marked the centenary of the puja.
The Durga Puja organised by the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall in Darjeeling hits the 103-year mark this year. The puja is steeped in tradition.
NNBHH, located at Chandmari, was built in 1890. With a two-storeyed structure, it has a spacious hall where public meetings of the Hindu community were held. The temple, located at the premises of the hall, was constructed in 1891.
It was the Maharaja of Cooch Behar who donated the money to construct the hall. It was later named Nripendra Narayan Hall in his memory. Seven years later, people began celebrating Durga Puja in the temple. During the course of time, personalities such as Swami Vivekananada, Sister Nivedita, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Acharya J C Bose visited the hall. It is said even legendary singer K L Saigal had once offered pushpanjali during Durga Puja.
"We will continue with the puja but it will be toned down this year owing to the ongoing strife and the bandh. We have already booked the idol at Kumortuli, Siliguri," stated Saibal Chakroborty, an organiser.
The puja at Kalimpong organised by Milani Club hits the 89th-year mark this year. They too will organise the puja at Kalimpong Thakurbari Temple this year on a humble scale.
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