KOLKATA: The economic slowdown has dimmed the lights of Durga Puja, forcing the puja organisers to scale down celebrations due to shrinking sponsorship. Not just small-budget ones, big organisers have also curtailed their budget by nearly 15 per cent to 30 per cent, mostly compromising on marquee decoration.
According to puja organisers, on an average, setting up a theme-based marquee for the five-day festivity, replete with safety arrangements and basic amenities, costs anything between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 30 crore.
“We had to curtail our budget by 30 per cent. None of the big sponsors came forward. Last year, many sponsors agreed to put up 20 banners and pay Rs 1 lakh apiece. This year, they agreed to give only five banners,’’ said Bappaditya Dasgupta, general secretary of Naktala Udayan Sangha.
Sudipto Kumar of Deshapriya Park Puja committee said economic slowdown resulted in failure to achieve the target of Rs 65 lakh.
“We are running short of Rs 20 lakh. Most sponsors, this time, either declined to make a contribution or paid less than what they do.’’ Corporate firms are not willing to spend on ads, he claimed.
“Every year, expenditure increases by 10 per cent. This year, we are running short of 25 per cent of our target. Organising such a big event solely on people’s subscription is not possible. Corporate houses turned down our requests to sponsor,’’ said Debasish Kumar of Tridhara Sammilani. Kumar said, the slowdown in the automobile sector caused a major jolt to the organisers.
“This year, we got not a single sponsors (from the sector).’’
Organisers have made several modifications, mostly cutting down on promotional activities. Kajal Sarkar, the president of Forum for Durgotsab, said, sponsorship is down by 30-50 per cent.
“Donations, subscriptions and retail advertisements cover about 30 per cent of the expenses only.”
Many of the small puja opted for a pandal without any distinct theme.
“We had decided to use glass structures. But lack of funds forced us to use in PoP,’’ said Ashok Deb, an official of a Durga Puja committee in North 24 Parganas.