When worship is work

Nothing official about it, but Durga Puja reaches new heights of ostentation in Kolkata as Mamata Banerjee’s ministers vie with each other to make bigger, flashier pandals.

Published: 21st October 2012 10:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2012 10:04 AM   |  A+A-


A walk through Kolkata’s 75 Pally Durga Puja will transfer you to the blue city of Jodhpur. It also represents Mamata Banerjee’s favourite colour scheme of blue and white. The puja in Didi’s Bhawanipore Assembly constituency is patronised by former Union Minister of State for Urban Development Saugata Roy and State Sports and Transport Minister Madan Mitra. And it’s not just the pandal and lights; even the goddess has discarded her red sari for blue!

“According to the West Bengal Chief Minister’s wishes for a blue and white city, we wanted to show how beautiful that city would look,” said Manik De, organiser, 75 Pally Durga Puja. The organisers have left no stone unturned to showcase the chief minister’s vision to the masses. They have proudly painted even the surrounding buildings blue and white in keeping with the theme. “Young people of the locality thought that the blue theme would be good,” said Roy, TMC MP, to The Sunday Standard. The budget for this puja is pegged upwards of Rs 20 lakh.

Roy who has been associated with this puja for 8 to 10 years is one of several senior TMC leaders who have played patrons to several ‘para’ or locality pujas. Most of these TMC leaders are state cabinet ministers under whose aegis the pujas have scaled the popularity charts. With the TMC coming to power in 2011, these pujas draw some of the greatest crowds and sponsorships. Other than Mitra, State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, State Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, State Industries and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee and MoS for Youth Services, Housing and Parliamentary Affairs Aroop Biswas are associated with various pujas.

Mitra also supports Agradut Uday Sangha Durga Puja in Bhawanipore which has used one crore buttons in its pandal and dolls from Krishnanagar to depict Swami Vivekananda’s life. The theme is one of Didi’s pet topics and is costing between Rs 30-35 lakh. Aroop Biswas’ Suruchi Sangha Durga Puja in New Alipore has Goa as its theme and is creating awareness about sea pollution. “Our Durga Puja is the best in India and among the Bengali diaspora as well. I have been associated with this puja from my childhood and it’s very close to my heart,” said Biswas. The pandal depicting aquatic life has also recreated the famous Goan carnival complete with dance troops flown in from the country’s party capital. The budget is around Rs 25 lakh.

Partha Chatterjee’s Udayan Sangha in Naktala which showcases the life cycle of the butterfly has a 90-ft metal butterfly hanging in the pandal. “Partha Chatterjee visits on the days leading up to the pujas and during the main five days as well. Even if it’s for half an hour he definitely makes it a point to drop by,” said Anjan Samaddar, joint secretary, Udayan Sangha adding that the budget was in the range of Rs 35-40 lakh.

Firhad Hakim’s Agrani Club in Chetla is special every year due to its message of communal harmony. With a whopping budget of Rs 40 lakh, the pandal shows the ebb and tide of sea waves and has hanging idols from a height of 25 feet. Subrata Mukherjee’s Ekdalia Evergreen Club with a budget between Rs 40-45 lakh has a replica of the Mahalaxmi Temple.


-Sunday Standard


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