Kallol and GSCA Durga Puja Registrations Sold Out!!!

This year something unprecedented has happened. The two major Durga Puja committees have closed their doors to the Bengalis of the area who have failed to pre-register in due time. Kallol organizers tell me that they are completely sold out and do not have space for a single extra person. They had to express their inability to accommodate hundreds of people. Apparently this year the township authorities have clamped down with severe restrictions on the number of people that can be accommodated at the Ukranian Cultural/Community Center hall where Kallol celebrates its Durga Puja. It is envisaged that the township authorities will be inspecting the venue every day during the festival during the peak hours. Continue reading

Cartoon of the week 7: Durga Puja Chaanda Collection Service

Chaanda collection service In several of my earlier blog articles, I wrote about our sensitivity to paying Durga Puja contributions (popularly known as Chaanda). The Puja organizers have tried to be innovative in extracting (no I never said extorting) the funds from the pockets of the attendees – they suggested (very strongly) donation amounts which partially resolved the problem but not the unpredictability. They have now resorted to early registration to ensure the committed funds (doesn’t matter if the contributors fail to attend due to weather or personal issues) and again they are successful to a great extent (Kallol has stopped early registration two weeks in advance and have declared “House Full”). Continue reading

Big B’s Blog

Amitabh BachchanBlogging by celebrities is a trend that has caught on for quite some time now. But in most cases the celebrities use the blog to market their latest products, films, music, whatever. Blogging regularly, in the midst of their busy schedule, is quite a challenge for any celebrity. Still some find the time to do it, besides the marketing aspect, just to be connected to their fans – sometimes even to show the people a different side of their personality which is never exposed through the medium they generally use. Continue reading

Durga Puja in New Jersey

Following is the list of Durga Puja celebrations in New Jersey with dates and venues:

1. Kallol of New Jersey
Oct 3, 4, 5
Ukrainian Church Community Center,
135 Davidson Ave, Somerset, NJ

2. Garden State Cultural Association
Oct 4th and 5th 2008
Plainfield High School,
950 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060

3. Indian Community Center of Garden State
Oct 4th & 5th
Eisenhower Middle School
47 Eyland Avenue
Succasunna, NJ 07876

4. Garden State Puja Committee
Oct 4th and 5th, 2008
40 Sullivan Dr, Jersey City, NJ

5. Anandamandir
Oct 5th to Oct 9th , 2008
269 Cedar Grove Lane,
Somerset, NJ 08873-5212

6. Bharat Sevahram Sangha
Oct 5th to 9th 2008
3490 Route 27, Kendall Park, NJ 08824

You may visit the websites of these Pujas from our Webcollage page.

Indian Food and Nutrition

A Thali of Indian FoodAll around us we find tons of books, websites, and other information about food and nutrition. What we should eat and what not, what foods to avoid for diabetes, what foods to eat to lower cholesterol and what foods to avoid for weight loss. Zillions of nutritionists, dietitians, physicians, nurses, body builders and quacks have made millions writing such books. Most of these books, however, cater to the western food habits. Their meal suggestions, recipes and nutritional information cover only the kind of diet that we Indians hardly eat in our daily lives. Some diet books lightly touch upon some of the Indian foods but they are severely limited to the typical north Indian recipes like tandoori chicken or chicken tikka masala. But if you are a Bengali, then CTM (as they call chicken tikka masala in UK) appears rarely on our diet. We would be interested in knowing whether chhaanar dalna is a healthier meal than shorshe ilish.
Healthy Indian FoodFew months ago, a friend of mine forwarded me an e-book (a pdf file) titled “Indian Foods: AAPI’s Guide to Health, Nutrition, and Diabetes”. This book, written by a team of experts appointed by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) provides an invaluable guide to the Indians living in America to make some sense of their diet in terms of healthiness. The best part of this book is that it contains chapters pertaining to the regional foods of India. For example, in its chapter on Bengali and Oriya cuisine, the author provides a table (no pun intended) showing a typical Bengali diet and how it can be modified to make it healthier.
I’d like to welcome you all to download this book by clicking on this link. AAPI is distributing this book for free. I thank AAPI for providing this valuable resource.

Birth Centenary Celebration of Buddhadeb Bose

Tagore Society of New York
Will celebrate
100 Year Anniversary of writer, poet ,novelist
Buddhadeb Bose

Sunday, September 14, 2008 @ 2.00 PM
At the residence of Dr.Nupur Lahiri
4343 State Hwy No. 27
Princeton, NJ 08540

Introduction Jyotirmoy Datta
Songs Supti Dasgupta / Sushmita Sarkar / Nupur Lahiri
Poetry Reading Pijush Dey / Mel Datta
Play recital To be Determined
Poetry Reading Farooque Azam / Arvin Ghosh

Rt. 1 south – turn right on Promonade Blvd.
Turn right on Rt. 27 drive 1 mile
The house is on left across Little Rocky Hill firehouse

Cartoon of the Week 6: The Pujo Entertainment

Pujor AddaEntertainment events are the major attractions of any Durga Puja festival. The Puja organizers spend thousands of dollars to get the most popular artistes from India as well as from the local talent pool. It is the star entertainers that pull in the crowd, and crowd brings in revenue. The popularity ratings of the entertainers define the success of a Durga Puja.
But is it true? If the stars and their entertainment was the only reason to attend a Puja festival, then why do we have to listen to the constant rumbling noise of numerous “adda” sessions that continue in the background? As the audio levels of the performers rise, so does the noise level. To many attendees (myself included) the main attraction of attending a Puja is the opportunity to meet friends and engage in endless “addas”. We have no ill feeling towards the performers, they can continue to do their job as long as they don’t disturb our “addas”. After all, it is them who made us decide which Puja to attend – but they cannot deny us our birth right to be able to talk, talk and talk for hours on. We will occasionally listen to one or two songs to give our tired jaw bones some rest, but soon we’ll get back to argue about who was the best performer of the song, and how this “hopeless” artist has ruined the song completely. We’ll lament the dearth of talent in Bengal and how we miss the golden days of Kishore and Hemanta-da, how the new generation of band music is destroying Bangla music and why one should ban artistes like Sumon and Nachiketa.

ECTA Looking for Actors and Actresses

ECTA (Ethnomedia Center for Theater Arts) is looking for actors and actresses for their upcoming production to be staged in late November 2008. Previous acting experience is nice to have but not necessary. Love for theater and performing arts is a must.

If you are interested please attend the following casting call.

Play: Banaprastha – a play in Bengali by Sudipta Bhawmik
Directed by: Indranil Mukherjee

Date and Time: Friday Sept 5 at 7:30pm
Place: 28 McBride Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807

To RSVP send email to indymukh@gmail.com or bhawmik@gmail.com

Cartoon of the Week 5: Pujo Cartoon

Suggested minumum pieces : 8Durga Puja festival has always been a great source of inspiration to me as a cartoonist. I have drawn several cartoons related to this festival and the way we celebrate it in our adopted homeland. Last week I posted one on the “Chanda” issue. This cartoon (drawn a long time ago for Kallol Sahityo Patrika) also takes a spin on the same touchy subject. In earlier times (late 80’s and early 90’s), the Pujo organizers did not specify or “suggest” any contribution amount to the attendees. The strong “suggestion” became, sort of, necessary from the later half of the 90’s when goat meat (or mutton curry) became a must item at the Saturday evening community dinner. Goat meat has always been an expensive item, and with the unpredictable attendance being a major problem, estimating the amount of meat to be cooked is always an issue. The volunteers serving dinner had to deploy smart strategies to control the number of mutton pieces to the hungry devotees standing in the line. At the beginning phase, they are generally generous, especially to their friends and families. However, soon (after a quick review by the supervisors) the strategy changes to a rationing mode when the number of mutton pieces served becomes indirectly proportional to the number of attendees. Now in this situation, the tired and hungry attendee, who has paid the “suggested minimum contribution” has all the right to demand a “suggested minimum number of pieces” of the precious goat meat. After all, that was one of the key factors that attracted him to this festival in the first place!