With less than a month to go for Bengalis everywhere to welcome Maa Durga, the community in Singapore, too, is feeling the surge in festive fervour. Durga Puja 2023 (October 20-24), as celebrated by the Singapore Indian Puja Association (SIPA), has the themes of ‘sustainability’, ‘equality’, and ‘inclusivity’.
These themes, which represent SIPA’s efforts to make Durga Puja as meaningful as possible for the wider community in Singapore, have been given a hearty shoutout by the renowned Indian quizmaster Siddhartha Basu, host of Quiz Time, a landmark show on Indian television, and later of Mastermind India and University Challenge.
Basu, who is Bengali, has created a Durga Puja quiz for SIPA and commended the Association on a special video. He says in the video: “I would like to extend my warmest greetings and heartfelt support to all of you for the forthcoming Durga Puja celebrations.” He then commends SIPA for its “efforts in organising and bringing together the community to celebrate this significant event for the second time”.
SIPA is praised by Basu for playing a “vital role in fostering a sense of belonging and cultural pride in the community”. The Association, he adds, contributes to the “multi-cultural tapestry of Singapore”.
The theme of sustainability sees SIPA reusing its idol from 2022 and eliminating single-use plastic from the celebrations in order to minimise the festival’s carbon footprint.
The themes of equality and inclusivity see the empowerment of women, as SIPA sources all its Durga Puja décor material from Indian artisans and craftsmen, “all of whom are women entrepreneurs from small-scale industries”, according to the organisers. “This initiative not only enhances the aesthetics of our celebration, but also supports and uplifts these dedicated artisans,” says SIPA.
In addition, the Association shuns hierarchical roles in its Durga Puja celebrations, with every SIPA member designated only “volunteer” — all are equal here. This gives every member a sense of great pride and involvement, no matter what the quantum of their contribution.
“Our doors and hearts are open to everyone, [a] member or not. We ensure that prasad and bhog are available to all, reflecting our mission of affability and solidarity,” says a SIPA statement.