Like a magnificent tradition that unfolds year after year, Hampshire Puja and Cultural Association (HPCA), marked the arrival of Goddess Maa Durga with the grand celebration of the highly anticipated Durga Puja festival. Held at the Hilt, Hiltingbury Centre from October 20th to 22nd, 2023, this event brought together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate one of the most significant festivals in the Hindu calendar.
The Chandler's Ford MP, Steve Brine, attended the event as part of his Winchester Faith Series which seeks to learn more about the local faiths and cultures of Winchester, Chandler's Ford and the wider Hampshire area. Steve was joined by his son William.
The Durga Puja celebration organized by HPCA did not just capture the essence of a religious tradition; it transcended boundaries and showcased a rich cultural heritage recognized by the United Nations as an intangible cultural treasure. The festival saw a dazzling display of century-old rituals, and participants of all ages, regardless of their personal beliefs, came together to celebrate good over evils. Over the course of three days, the event was packed with a variety of cultural and artistic activities, including a captivating dance drama performance by nearly 50 HPCA members. This performance conveyed a powerful message about climate change and the role each individual plays in addressing this global challenge. The HPCA children's band further delighted the audience with their impressive musical and dance talents.
The Durga Puja festival organized by HPCA drew an impressive crowd of over 1,200 individuals, with attendees coming not only from various parts of Hampshire County but also from as far away as Surrey, Wiltshire, Dorchester, and beyond. For many first-time visitors, it was their initial experience of witnessing Durga Puja in the UK, a significant departure from their ancestral homelands in India and Bangladesh. The joy and sense of connection to their cultural roots were palpable, making the event a truly special occasion. The festival also welcomed distinguished guests, including the esteemed Rt. Hon. Steve Brine MP, who added to the grandeur of the event with their presence.
A unique feature of the festivities was the preparation of hot meals throughout the three days, which were generously distributed to all visitors, symbolizing the spirit of community and togetherness. HPCA acknowledges that the success of this annual extravaganza would not have been possible without the active support of its dedicated members and supporters. The organization is also grateful for the support of the Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council, and various corporate sponsors whose contributions played a vital role in making this event a resounding success.
As HPCA looks to the future, the commitment to fostering a sense of community cohesion that transcends boundaries and unites individuals from diverse cultures, faiths, and walks of life remains unwavering. The association is committed to growing year by year and continuing to celebrate and preserve this rich cultural heritage for generations to come.
For more information about HPCA and its events, please visit www.thehpca.org