The holiday is mainly celebrated in the eastern part of India and the celebration lasts for five days ending on Tuesday.

"It's more than just a religious holiday. It also has a strong cultural meaning for us," says Ishana, one of the priests and president of the Bengali Association of Gothenburg.

Very unusual with female priests

Every year, the association has struggled to hire a priest, who is usually a man, during the feast. Since there are several other Indian associations that celebrate the holiday at the same time in Sweden, the priests are often fully booked.

"We were happy and surprised that the men on the board even encouraged us to drive ourselves," says Ishana Basu, the chairperson.

The women studied intensively for two months online with a female priest who is considered a pioneer in India.

"It was very tough and we were nervous in the beginning, but we fought and made it," says Ishana Basu.

Worried about the reactions

Initially, there was a concern that the women were neither the "right" gender nor caste. But after the ceremony, the newly elected priests were surprised.

"We were met with so much positivity from everyone," says Ishana Basu.

Recognized in India

The Telegraph India newspaper recently drew attention to the women's efforts. In addition to the association in Gothenburg, another group of Indian women in Helsingborg has also taken the opportunity to train as priests.

Many Indians in West Sweden

In 2021, a record number of Indians received work permits in Västra Götaland, mainly as engineers and in the IT industry. Today, many families have established themselves, according to the Bengali Association of Gothenburg.

"We Indians are proud to work and live here in Gothenburg. We enjoy partying and celebrating these rituals. So we're so happy that we can do this," says former member Prithu Bannerjee.