NEW DELHI: The broad-spectrum economic slowdown hasn’t even spared the Gods. The organisers of Durga Puja celebrations in the national capital are struggling to rake in sponsorships from the mighty corporate houses as well as the big public sector enterprises. While sponsorships for the larger puja committees are down 20-30 per cent, the smaller clubs are forced to curtail their budget, said committee members.
"We are seeing muted response from most sponsors this year. Total contributions have come down by 20 per cent as many of our regular advertisers did not participate in any kind of sponsorship this year. We are looking for new ones as well as increasing the number of sponsors to meet our budget,” said Utpal Ghosh, former president, and now advisor of Navapally Puja Samity, CR Park in New Delhi.
Interestingly, however, Ashitava Bhowmik, president of Chittaranjan Park Kali Mandir Society, claimed that this year they have managed to get more advertisers for its hoardings and kiosks compared to last year.
Typically, puja organisers target bumper crowds each year and companies are keen on cashing in on the festive craze to grab eyeballs and ensure brand engagement. This year, however, the slowing economy seems to be holding back the cautious India Inc from splurging on ad spends, despite big gains from corporate tax cut. Similarly, the public sector firms are also reluctant to shell out hefty sums unlike previous years, admitted some of the members.
“Most PSUs have reduced the amount this year. Companies who were giving us up to `1.5 lakh, have committed just `50,000 this year, citing the present market situation,” said Mrinal Kanti Biswas, general secretary, Miloni Club MV Phase 1, adding the committee is faced with a shortfall in its budget and has garnered just `17 lakh so far as compared to `25 lakh collected last year.
Chandana Mukherjee, president of Matri Mandir Samiti, one of the largest crowd-pullers, concurred, stating that sponsors are reluctant to spend this year and that they had to compromise on their budget. “As a measure, we have curtailed our expenditure on cultural programmes by hiring local artists instead of the usual big shots we try and get every year,” she added.
Likewise, Antaranga Durga Puja Samiti in Mayur Vihar Phase-I Extension said it has pruned its budget by 26 per cent this year. “We have cut down on everything. Our pandal cost, which is 40 per cent of the total budget, is down 20 per cent this year due to fund scarcity. Also, our overall budget this year is `14 lakh, down from `19 lakh last year,” said Suvankar Mitra, general secretary, Antaranga.