Outgoing Christchurch Mayor joins Cantabrians at Durga Pooja

Outgoing Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel participated in the religious ritual at the Durga Pooja Celebrations held in Christchurch on October 8, 2022 (Photo Supplied)

Shirish Paranjape
Christchurch, October 23, 2022

Cantabrians cut across religious and other barriers to pay obeisance to Hindu Goddess Durga and farewell Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel while celebrating cultural diversity, social cohesion and community inclusion.

The Durga Pooja celebration, which marked its seventh year on October 8, 2022, was bigger, better and more accessible than its predecessors and was held for the first time at the Bishopdale Community Centre of Christchurch City Council.

The daylong event began at 9 am with the traditional lighting of the lamp, Pushpanjali (floral offering) and prayers for universal peace and harmony.

While Shilpa Tarafdar made the idols of all the Deities, her husband Premjit was the officiating priest for the religious ceremony. Both are Electronic Engineers by profession and hence precision and excellence were their natural pursuits.

Premjit Tarafdar prepares for the Pooja as communities watch the piety (Photo Supplied)

Cultural Performances

An all-vegetarian lunch, prepared by the Bengali community was served as Prasad (Blessed Food) with prayers for the wellbeing of all people. All related tasks were executed by volunteers.

Games and quiz programmes for children were held during the post-lunch session.

This was followed by a cultural performance of a quartet: Nelson Myers Daly (Bansuri), Liam Oliver (Sitar), Louis Singh Talbot (Dilruba) and Joshua D’Vanhu (Tabla). They presented Raag Yaman, a fundamental note in Hindustani Music.

Takumi, a Japanese Drum Group that has gained prominence on the South Island, stole the thunder with its energetic and rhythmic performance. Three disciples accompanied their Guru Joshua for a group Tabla performance. There were elegant and delightful dance performances of Bharat Natyam, as well as contemporary styles.

Young Krishanu Das drew wide applause for his poem on Goddess Durga.

The quartet rendering Raag Yaman (Photo Supplied)

Lianne Dalziel honoured

Among the highlights of the event was the ceremony to facilitate Lianne Dalziel for her services to the Christchurch communities as a three-term Mayor. She represented Christchurch Central and Christchurch East in Parliament for 23 years until she became the City’s Mayor in 2013. As a mark of respect, admiration and love, the community presented her with a ‘Bouquet of Memories,’ which contained an album of photographs taken at the Durga Pooja Celebrations in the past years and a handwoven Kantha Silk Saree.

The outgoing Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner and Councillor Jimmy Chen were also acknowledged at the meeting, which was attended among others by Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods (and MP from Wigram), Labour MPs Duncan Webb (Christchurch Central) and Sarah Pallet (Ilam) and community leaders.

In the past years, participants were required to buy lunch coupons priced at $15 to cover costs.

However, this year participants were expected to offer only a ‘gold coin’ ($1 or $2) as a donation.

“This has been made possible, thanks to funding support from various donors and supporters, including the Christchurch City Council,” said Amit Sarkar who has been instrumental in organising Durga pooja events, said.

Shirish Paranjape is Indian Newslink Correspondent in Christchurch.

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