Durga Puja special: Watch out for this six landmark Pujas in Kolkata
KOLKATA LITERALLY TURNS into a visual treat during the Durga Puja festie season with over 3,000 community pujas organised in the city alone. And the countdown to the mass revelry has already begun with neighbourhoods dotted with pandal structures getting ready at breakneck speed to welcome Ma Durga and her children for five days from October 3 onwards. With competition reaching fever pitch, puja committees across the City of Joy are working overtime to ensure they become the talking point of the town. With just a fortnight left before the festivities begin, Indulge scouts out the top draws this year in Kolkata. Here are the first six instalments:
1. Tridhara Akalbodhan Puja has Drishtikon or perception as its theme this year. “Given the atmosphere of hatred, fear and communalism all around, we explored this theme, where the visitor will have a different mindset while entering the mandap and will come out with a different viewpoint altogether,” explains Subhojit Chakraborty, the cultural convenor of the puja, without revealing much. The idea has been conceived by the award-winning artist Gauranga Kuila. A lot of eco-friendly materials including age-old bamboos are being used to build the structure, apart from the heavy use of glass for a 3D effect. Like last year, the idol will give the message of peace and harmony, Subhojit tells us.
2. Though most of the puja organisers in Kolkata have happily surrendered to themes, Ekdalia Evergreen Club happens to be an exception. For the past 77 years, the posh Ekdalia Road has been a hotspot, drawing crowds every day with its overwhelming pandal, gorgeous idol, imposing chandeliers and elaborate lighting. Last year, the replica of the huge Brihadeshwara temple in Tamil Nadu drew in hordes of people. This year too, they have big plans. “We are creating the famous Jatoli Shiva Temple in Himachal’s Solan. This time too, the idol will be 16 feet tall and there will be a huge chandelier with a 30/30 ft diameter,” Gautam Mukherjee of the Puja committee tells us.
3. Naktala Udayan Sangha, popular for its unique themes is always on the top of the list of any pandal hopper. Last year, it had samai or time as its theme, depicting the dynamic nature of time. “But despite getting more than 24 awards, the visitors were a bit disappointed since they have very high expectations from us. Hence, this year, our plans are much more elaborate and the theme is janmo or birth,” says Bubun Dasgupta, assistant secretary of the puja, which witnesses a footfall of more than six lakhs per day. The pandal is being made with iron, tin sheds, straw and clay pots besides other construction materials. The theme has been conceived by artist Bhabatosh Sutar.
4. Sreebhumi Sporting Club is the only puja near the airport area to have the distinction of drawing more than a thousand visitors, every five minutes. Known for its majestic pandals, the puja is also famous for the heavy gold embellishments that the idols are adorned with for the five days. Like last year, this 47-year-old puja will have Ma Durga wearing gold jewellery weighing more than 12 kg, designed especially by Senco Gold. The pandal will be a cross between a Rajasthani palace and a temple, informs Biswanath Biswas, the joint secretary of Sreebhumi Sharodotsav Committee.
5. Hazra Park Durgotsab held inside Jatin Das Park was started 77 years ago in 1942, exclusively for those employed with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to keep the city clean. The puja continues to be organised with a lot of care and even today, over a thousand underprivileged workers are seated and served bhog and prasad by the puja committee members. Over the years the young joint secretary of the puja, Sayan Deb Chatterjee has turned it into a must-see spot. “In this age, our life is controlled by passwords which are nothing but sets of numbers, be it our cell phone or our office computer or our ATM Pincode, everything is controlled by a password. But what’s the password for happiness? That’s our theme, this year — password,” says Sayan.
6. Samaj Sebi Sangha, the 74-yearold puja in South Kolkata has kurnish (paying respect) as its theme this year. Ideated by Pradip Das, the theme tries to recognise the efforts of nameless, faceless workers and salutes their contribution to the society. Apart from that, Samaj Sebi also reached out to the Autism Society of West Bengal this year to give individuals with autism a grand experience of puja celebrations, says Arijit Maitra, general secretary of the puja.