Every year, millions of people, irrespective of race and religion, get together to celebrate the joyous occasion of Durga Puja. According to the Gulshan-Banani Sharbajanin Puja Foundation, communal harmony is one of the four key pillars that Bangladesh was built on. For the last 12 years, Banani Puja Mandap has been one of the biggest arrangements in the city for the occasion. “It started in 2008, when a few residents of the Gulshan-Banani and neighbouring areas discussed about the upcoming Puja of that year,” says Gitanka D Datta, Organising Secretary of the Puja Foundation. “We thought of making a Puja Mandap in this neighborhood as the Puja festivities were completely missing in North Dhaka.”
The members of the Gulshan-Banani Sharbajanin Puja Foundation are Shubal C Saha (President), Sudhangsu K Das (General Secretary), Sukumar Chowdhury (Convenor- 12th anniversary celebrations) and Gitanka D Datta (Organising Secretary).
The venue remains occupied with visitors from all over the country, where they can enjoy live music and cultural performances by renowned artistes. One of the more stunning attractions is the gorgeous idol of Maa Durga.
This year, with the tagline of Sharodio Shompritir Baro Bochhor (12 years of Communal Harmony), the foundation successfully completed their journey of 12 years. “On the sixth day of the Puja, as a part of our social responsibility, we honoured 12 eminent personalities from different sectors of society for their lifelong contribution towards a unified and prosperous Bangladesh,” says Sudhangsu K Das, General Secretary of the Foundation.
The personalities are -- Shahriar Kabir, Professor Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Professor Dr Anisuzzaman, Bir Uttom Major General Chitty Ranjan Dutta, Hashem Khan, Abed Khan, Ziauddin Tariq Ali, Dr Samanta Lal Sen, Advocate Sultana Kamal and Nasiruddin Yousuff. Suranjit Sen Gupto and Subir Nandi were also honoured posthumously. The honourable President of Bangladesh, Abdul Hamid, added joy to the occasion with his presence.
The president of the foundation thanked Partha Saha who led a team of over a hundred students. Their hard work led to the construction of the temple. “The temple is made with board and cork-sheet,” expresses Shubal C Saha. “I am grateful to all the students, including those who belong to different religions, for being so supportive.” Gitanka D Datta also expressed his gratitude towards Government bodies, Dhaka City Corporation, law enforcement agencies, utility authorities, electronic and print media, Banani Society and sponsors for their enormous support in this journey.
“Our artisans, designers, engineers and the whole workforce who are involved in this project, are all local people. They have created such spectacular idols, temples and all the designs,” says Sukumar Chowdhury, Convenor of the 12-year-celebrations.
The Gulshan-Banani Sharbajanin Puja Foundation believes in the soul of culture, that unifies all Bangladeshis as one.