Kumartuli to Jacksonville

Ma Durga crosses the Atlantic to shower her blessings on the residents of Jacksonville, Florida.

Jacksonville was my first place of stay in the US and I can easily call it my second home. So while all of my friends and family were enjoying the arrival of the ‘Mother and her Family’ in the City of Joy, I did not miss much of the fun, thanks to the efforts of so many people who made the Jax (as we lovingly call the city of Jacksonville) Durga Pujo possible.

This post is dedicated to their hard work and enthusiasm.

Thanks to Mayukh Da, for the write up.

Jacksonville, Florida is one of the largest cities in USA by size. However it does not feature among the tier-1 metropolis of the nation. The city’s Indian population though has recently seen some unprecedented spikes, it still falls behind when compared to larger metros in Florida like Tampa, Orlando or Miami. The Bengali population is no different.

Typically since the 90s the Jax Bengali population had comprised of about 15 odd families. Bengalis in Jacksonville used to attend the Bengali Society Durga Pujo in Orlando (Orlando being just 2 hours away from Jacksonville).Post the dot com era and after having hosted the super-bowl, the job economy in Jacksonville started growing and thanks to the IT influx, the number of families spiked to about 25 in number.

In the year 2008, a few entrepreneurial individuals got together and decided to launch an separate Durga Pujo in Jacksonville.

The ‘ek-chala’ durga protima was procured from Kumartuli.

The first pujo was held at a rented location (Orange Park Ladies Club). Through much fanfare the Jax Pujo was launched. Pujo used to be celebrated for just a day from 2008 through 2010.

In 2010, the Pujo was shifted to The HSNEF Hindu Temple for logistic purposes. Since 2010 the pujo has been held at the temple. Since 2011, the Jaxpujo has graduated into 2 days of celebration. Since 2012, every year, a guest artist has been called for performing on stage. The organization BANF (Bengali Association of North FL) was incorporated in 2008.

In the year 2009, BANF received the 501(c)(3) status from IRS. BANF engages in cultural, charitable, social-service and religious programs. BANF have had 5 presidents so far and has a fully functional by-laws, executive committee and nomination board. Recognition has been received from the mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown and Governor Rick Scott.

2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the Jax-Pujo and a grand celebration was planned with cultural events involving guest artists from Kolkata.

The Main worship area at HSNEF(Hindu Society Of North East Florida)

How did you enjoy this year’s Pujo?

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