Durga Puja diplomacy plays out in Bengal

Most Consulates are participating in the celebration and see it as an opportunity to enhance ‘cultural ties with eastern India’
The participation of foreign envoys in Durga Puja festivities in Kolkata saw a new upsurge on Thursday with the arrival of U.S. Ambassador to India Keneth I. Juster in Kolkata late on Thursday evening. Almost all major Consulate and Deputy High Commission offices are participating in the puja, with most seeing it as an opportunity to enhance “cultural ties with eastern India.” The schedule of Mr. Juster, shared by American Consulate office in the city, did not highlight any political meetings. On Friday, the U.S. Ambassador will be inaugurating a puja in Salt Lake’s FD Block followed by visit to three pandals in the city on Saturday. “Ambassador Juster will be in Durga puja festival in Kolkata for the first time and looks forward to experience the cultural extravaganza, which reinforces the importance of connecting with people irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” a statement by U.S. Consulate said. This is the first time that an Ambassador from a country is visiting the city to exclusively participate in the festival, a term often referred to as “Durga puja diplomacy.”
Dragon dance
Not far from FD Block, the Chinese Consulate is associated with the puja celebration at a pandal at BJ block for the first time; 39 artists from China are likely to arrive in the city and perform at Durga puja pandal from October 13 to October 17. Among the performances lined up are a Golden Peacock dance by 10 dancers, the Jasmine Flower dance and traditional martial arts and elephant foot dance with actors and artists assembling in Kolkata from various parts of China. Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Governor of Kolkata, and Chinese Consul General in Kolkata, Ma Jhanwu will inaugurate the puja on October 13. The Consul General of France in Kolkata Virginie Corteval, along with a heritage group, will visit to a rural Durga Puja at Usti in State’s South 24 Parganas district. The artworks of French artist Mireille-Joséphine Guézennec’s on Durga Puja celebration will also be on display at the Indian Museum from Friday. The exhibition Homage to Great Goddess Durga is the artist’s impression of the festival. For Bangladesh, almost all the members and their families can be located in various Pujas in the city, with Deputy High Commissioner Toufique Hasan scheduled to visit specific pandals. The British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata earlier organised a dialogue between the puja organisers in Kolkata and U.K. in the last week of September. ”I would be visiting pandals in Kolkata during Durga Pujo. I would be particularly interested to explore pandals that have a U.K. connection” Bruce Bucknell, the British Deputy High Commissioner, said.
Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/durga-puja-diplomacy-plays-out-in-bengal/article25196977.ece

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