Indian tennis legend Leander Paes today said the grandeur of Durga Puja should be marketed globally to make the event as big as Rio Carnival of Brazil. "Durga Puja is global celebration in my opinion. I was in New York for the US Open and visited the Indian Embassy, quite a few people who work there are Bengalis. They were all missing Kolkata and were desperate to come back here just for a few days," the 18-time Grand Slam winner said at a promotional event. Recollecting another instance, he said "I stayed with a Bengali family in London. They were in Kolkata two weeks ago, there is a big community in Holland that they are a part of. They want to come back here," the Olympic bronze medalist said. "What I want to say is that Durga Puja is a global celebration. We should market it is as such, something on the lines of Rio Carnival that Brazil has," the 44-year-old star sportsman said. "Yes, the local Brazilians are in the parade, celebrating in song and dance. I am a thoroughbred Kolkatan. I love going to different pandals.
But it's the preparation before the Pujas, the making of the mithai, the decorations, the actual idol itself... There's so much of culture and history that we have here in West Bengal that can be marketed beautifully," Paes suggested. He said the need is to concentrate and emphasise a little bit more because Kolkata is a real pinpoint on the global map but not just in West Bengal and India. "I'm very very proud of my heritage, whether it comes from my ancestor Michael Madhusudhan Dutt or my mother who captained India in basketball or my father who won an Olympic medal in 1972, or uncle Naresh Kumar (my first Davis Cup captain)," Paes reminded. "I would not be who I am without uncle Naresh and aunty Sunita ..... Their family is very very special to me. To actually grow up in Kolkata and study in La Marts, play at South Club and CC&FC and learn in Maidan where dad played hockey for Mohun Bagan... To go out there and have that sporting heritage, I carry it all around the world. I'm proud of it," he said. "Coming back to Durga Puja, I think it's a global celebration. Bengalis should go out around the world and celebrate big, globally ..... As the Bengalis living in other parts of the world become a part of it," he said.
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