Durga Puja Special: Watch out for these 12 landmark Pujas in Kolkata
Our series on the Puja pandals to watch out for in the city, where we bring you a dozen and a half more to add to you list
Now that people of the city have a hang of contactless drive-by darshans, virtual walkthroughs, socially distanced kiosks, Durga Puja committees have their work cut out for them. According to the new mandate, pandals need to have a barricade around the mandap so crowds won’t have room to gather around the idols. Kolkata’s landmark Pujas are manoeuvring around the new normal and going the extra mile to create a safe and convenient experience for pandals hoppers. We have hand-picked a dozen Puja pandals you need to look out for this year
Location: Ritchie Road
The spirited addas and grandiose chandeliers of Maddox Square were notably scaled down last year as people were not allowed to gather for the usual adda to ensure distancing. This year too the mandap will forgo a theme, visitors will not be allowed to sit inside the park, the committee has urged visitors to leave the premises as soon as their darshan is done. In fact, their theme this year urges people to save the ‘21’s adda for ‘22, to be resumed under better circumstances.
75 Palli, Bhowanipore
For their 57th year, Bhowanipore’s 75 Palli will offer an authentic look at Purulia, specifically the Chhau communities who were hit particularly hard during Covid. The mandap will be embellished with several authentic props made by the artisan communities in Purulia and the roof has been made with dried straw and clay.
Location: Jodhpur Park
Last year, Jodhpur Park’s theme attempted to associate hope with the crises that surround our immediate world and featured a quirky blue and red colour block pandal. This year artist Bhabotosh Sutar returns as the curator, although the theme has been kept under wraps, the committee has confirmed that it will focus on a social message about the current health crisis for its 72nd year with some innovations in thematic designs and detailing.
Last year Suruchi Sangha went for homegrown styling by using saris, bamboo sticks etc, this year their theme is ‘aabdar’ which refers to an adoring request. The committee is keeping the details of the set-up under wraps but Primary glimpses have revealed a spacious mandap with plenty of colour intervention. The committee is planning to reveal the theme as and when they unveil the Puja. But the club has come up with efficient guidelines for crowd control and will offer live visuals from the pandal for their followers.
Sreebhumi Sporting Club
Location: Lake Town
Known for their audacious mandaps and extravagant themes, Sreebhumi is going for the gold this year as well. The Puja mandap has been modelled on the tallest tower in the world, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the committee has actually erected a stunning 120-ft high-riser right in the middle of Lake Town. The towers exude a vibrant silver hue and there will also be some lightning effect to enhance the experience for the visitors. But the pandal will also put in place a functional crowd monitoring system to ensure distancing.
For its 80th year, the South Kolkata Puja is going for an economical set-up with a focus on the environment; the pandal will feature several nature-loving elements scattered around the area. Mithun Dutta is curating the mandap and artist Pradip Rudra Pal is creating the idol. Like every year the committee has decided to keep three sides of the mandap open to facilitate smooth and safe crowd movement. All visitors will need to be double vaccinated and will need to wear a mask.
Naktala Udayan Sangha
One of the biggest crowd-pullers of South Kolkata, Naktala Udayan Sangha is keeping things topical with its theme titled ‘chol chitra,’ which translates to an exodus. The theme will explore the migrant crisis around the world with a focus on how displacement affects families. Bhabatosh Sutar is set to craft the idol and award-winning creative director Pradip Das is curating the mandap. The committee is also hosting a vaccine drive right before Puja; visitors can get a glimpse of the idol without having to enter the mandap which will make distancing easier.
Bagbazar is one of the mainstays of any Puja itinerary and like every year this year too the age-old Puja will steer clear of a specific theme, going for a ‘sabeki’ or old school approach. Narayan Chandra Pal will be designing the idol which will be embellished with an elaborate ‘daak’-er saaj from Krishnanagar like every year. The pandal will be erected on a huge playground so visitors do not need to crowd near a small entryway and will get a glimpse of the idol from a distance.
Ekdalia Evergreen made news last year when it announced significant budget cuts to cope with the ongoing crisis. This year too, for its 79th year, Ekdalia will go for a subtle look with a pastel-hued pandal curated by Sanatan Rudra Pal and the lighting arrangements have been toned down. Ekdalia doesn’t usually go by a theme and the traditional Durga idol of twenty-two feet will look like it usually does, replete with the dramatic golden chalchitra. There will be a barricade outside the entryway to prohibit people from entering the mandap, but the entire set-up would be visible from a distance.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
Badamtala Ashar Sangha will clear the path for a drive-by darshan much like last year so visitors can see the pandal from their car. A section of the pavement section will be reserved for pedestrians. This year the mandap will re-imagine Shantiniketan’s weekly Sonajhuri haat and visitors will actually find some authentic homegrown weaves, artsy jewellery, handmade decor items etc.
Samaj Sebi Sangha
This award-winning Puja is set to celebrate its 76th year and is marking the occasion in significant ways. This year the committee is supporting and aiding orphans who have lost their families to Covid, and their theme is ‘Sneha’ or affection. The committee will help with the education, nutrition and also vaccination needs of the bereaved children. The pandal will feature a minimalist construction to keep three sides since the Puja happens on a residential lane. The idol would be bigger than last year’s to make it more prominent from a distance.
Mohammad Ali Park
Location: Central Avenue
The Mohammed Ali Park Puja changed its venue a few years ago for safety concerns and was held at the courtyard of the Central Avenue Fire Station. This year for its the Puja is returning to its original venue and will feature an economical modest ‘ekchala’ or a single arch idol.
The theme will revolve around prevention against a pandemic and will specifically explore the significance of vaccination. Visitors will not be allowed the park but will have to get a glimpse of the Puja from the road.