By Anita Kotowicz
Centuries of tales and traditions echoed throughout the MUB entertainment center Friday afternoon as students learned about one of India’s biggest festivals, the Durga Puja.
As a part of UNH’s efforts in aiding international students with the integration into the student body, weekly presentations called Cultural Connections are held to educate students about the numerous countries their fellow students represent. These events are co-sponsored by both the Office of International Students & Scholars (OSIS) and the Memorial Union Building.
This past Friday, starting at 3:30 p.m. and spanning 90 minutes, international student Tirthadeep Das informed everyone about what Durga Puja is and what it’s like to be in India, specifically Kolkata, for the duration of the festival.
“It’s better than learning from a textbook,” said Sadie Kaplan, a frequent attendee of the events. Kaplan spoke passionately about her love for learning about distinct cultures, describing the events as “really interesting and fun.”
Das started off by informing everyone about his hometown Kolkata, also known as “The City of Joy.” He went on to talk about the tourist areas in the city whilst showing everyone in the room beautiful pictures of the places. Students gazed in awe at the beauty of the Indian country.
Later on, Das spoke about the origin of Durga Puja, the 10-day-long festival in honor of the goddess Durga and her mythology. Durga was a 10-armed goddess created by the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh in order to slay the invincible demon king Mahishasur. During his explanation, Tirthadeep incorporated a few interesting facts about other Hindu gods.
Lastly, Das ended his presentation with showing his peers that despite hailing from another country, he still shares many interests with them. He talked about his love for all the street food during Durga Puja, showing everyone pictures of all the mouthwatering delicacies and making everyone wish they could try the foods. In addition to food, shopping at the traditional pandals is like “Black Friday on steroids,” according to Das.
There was not a dull moment in the presentation Tirthadeep Das gave. The passion he has for his culture was apparent in the tones of his voice. Having the chance to share it with his fellow peers at UNH only brought out and amplified the passions stored in his heart.
“We want to expose the UNH community to all things international,” said Elizabeth Webber, associate director of the international students and scholars. She spoke about how OSIS hopes that putting on these events will appeal to students and inform them about multiple aspects of different countries, whether it is by introducing them to different foods, sports, traditions, holidays or languages. Its ultimate goal is to bring students together and show others that everyone is connected, no matter what country they are from.
Cultural Connections are held weekly by different international students attending UNH with a scholarship. Information about upcoming events can be found on the MUB’s website and wildcat link page.