KANSAS CITY, KS – Only about 300 people speak Bengali in Kansas City, but nearly 300 million people speak the language worldwide. Bengali is mostly widely spoken in the West Bengal section of India and Bangladesh. Since local Bengalis are tied by geography and language, the Kansas City Bengali Association was formed to help them share cultural and social activities.
The group organized this year's Durga Puja, the largest holiday for Bengali speaking Hindus. This is the group's first time hosting the festival, and they chose the theme of interfaith understanding. In honor of this theme, the KCBA commissioned Laura-Harris Gascone, a non-Hindu and non-Indian, to build this year's Durga sculpture.
Gascone is an associate professor of art in the Johnson County Communtiy College ceramics department.Gascone said building the statue was a challenge, but an overwhelmingly positive experience. Debashish Haldar, KCBA president, said they were honored to have her work on their religious sculpture.