Kolkata's Durga Puja to get Chinese twist this year

Kolkata: Kolkata's famous Durga Puja will have a Chinese touch as the country is planning to become a partner for the celebrations this year.

As part of a plan to build people to people relations between West Bengal and Yunnan province, which will be connected through the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, China will bring in tourists to Kolkata from Kunming city during the festive season.

Durga Puja
Traditional gold jewellery being put on the clay idol of Hindu Goddess Durga in preparation for the upcoming Durga Puja festival in Kolkata. Photo: AFP

"We are making arrangements so that a group of may be around 100-200 people from China can come to Kolkata during the Durga Puja in October. Just like Indians, Chinese also have a huge interest in culture. There is a lot of synergy in eastern cultures," Chinese consul general Ma Zhanwu told PTI.

Besides bringing in tourists, they are also planning to tie-up with Durga Puja pandals in the city so that Chinese symbols like those related to dragons, umbrellas etc can also be showcased during the four-day-long festival here. "It will be an exchange of culture," he said.

A team of government officials from Yunnan province will be in the city later this month to hold talks with the state tourism department officials and big puja organisers. "Once the new state government takes charge, we will talk with the tourism department," the diplomat said.

The group of Chinese tourists will be taken on a tour all over the city to showcase some of the most attractive pandals, besides the regular attractions of the colonial-era Kolkata. A ride on the heritage tram is also on the cards, besides visits to Jorasanko Thakurbari, the ancestral house of Rabindranath Tagore, who still has a large following in China.

To make all arrangements, they are in talks with a local NGO called Impact, which organises safety awards for puja pandals. "We want it take Durga Puja to a global level. It is the best time to visit Kolkata because it is at its innovative and creative best during the season," Avijit Nandi Majumdar, president of the NGO, said.

Since many Chinese follow Buddhism, during their Kolkata trip they can also complete the Buddhist tourist circuit in the neighbouring Bihar's Bodh Gaya and then may be a visit to Nepal or Varanasi, he suggested. Last year the NGO had contacted Bangladesh, which took active participation in the festival.

"And now this year if we have China on board, then we can say we have been able to take Durga Puja global. Lot of foreign tourists already come to see the Durga Puja, but we want to build up people to people relations among the neighbouring countries during our biggest festival," Majumdar said.

The Chinese consulate said they will plan special events for the tourists during their stay here. Bilaterally the two countries had designated 2015 as 'Visit India Year' in China and 2016 as 'Visit China Year' in India.

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