This year, C.R. Park will cel­e­brate Durga Puja in an eco-friendly style

The Sunday Guardian - - Artbeat - NIBEDITA SAHA

Delhi is gear­ing up for the grand Ben­gali fes­ti­val of the year, Durga Puja. Ev­ery year, thou­sands of pan­dals are set up in the na­tional cap­i­tal to cel­e­brate the five-day fes­ti­val. And Chit­taran­jan Park (C.R. Park) re­mains the hub of Durga Puja cel­e­bra­tions in Delhi. The place is known for its cre­ative in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the puja pan­dal. This year, too, some of the pan­dals have been de­signed in an ex­pect­edly unique way. The high­light be­ing the ecofriendly pan­dals and idols put up here.

Over the years, we have seen the Durga idols stranded on the banks of the Ya­muna due to in­suf­fi­cient wa­ter in the river. To avoid the de­struc­tion of na­ture af­ter the fes­tiv­i­ties, the BBlock Durga Puja Samity and the C.R. Park Pocket-52 Durga Puja Com­mit­tee have been do­ing bhumi bis­ar­jan (im­mers­ing the idol of Durga in a wa­ter tank at the puja grounds) for a long time, in­stead of tak­ing the idol to the river.

P.K. Paul, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the C.R. Park Pock- et-52 Durga Puja Com­mit­tee, told Guardian 20, “The de­ci­sion of not im­mers­ing the idol in the river was quite chal­leng­ing. Con­vinc­ing peo­ple was also a te­dious task but we did it. This is our sixth year of do­ing bhumi bis­ar­jan like this.”

Since the Ya­muna is highly pol­luted al­ready, the de­ci­sion of im­mers­ing the idols in a wa­ter tank is a step to­wards sav­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. “Bhumi bis­ar­jan is safe for na­ture as well as for the peo­ple,” added Paul.

Ini­tially, there were con­cerns re­gard­ing the re­li­gious im­pli­ca­tions of this prac­tice. “We first talked to the pun­dits about do­ing bhumi bis­ar­jan and they said that it is manda­tory to im­merse the Navadurga (made with a ba­nana tree) in the river. But there is no harm in im­mers­ing the idol in [a wa­ter pit on] the ground,” he said.

The pres­i­dent of Pocket-52, Ashok Basu, talked to us about us­ing eco-friendly colours for the Durga idol. He said, “Be­fore the avail­abil­ity of bio-degrad­able colours in the mar­ket, we used to ex­tract colours from veg­eta­bles and seeds of tamarind to paint the faces of the idols. But since the past seven years, we have been us­ing bio-degrad­able colours. It is very cost-ef­fec­tive.”

Sayan Acharya, ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the B-Block Durga Puja Samity, ex­pressed the Samity’s main con­cern about the en­vi­ron­ment. “Ev­ery year, the Ya­muna gets pol­luted like any­thing af­ter puja cel­e­bra­tions in the city. It is very dif­fi­cult to con­vince peo­ple about change when it comes to re­li­gious mat­ters. Peo­ple who go for the bis­ar­jan pro­ces­sion un­der­stand the plight of watch­ing an idol get­ting dumped in the river, as there is no wa­ter to im­merse the idol in. So, we de­cided to dig up two holes in our own puja ground ac­cord­ing to the size of the idol,” he said.

“Be­sides, the ladies, aged peo­ple and chil­dren are not able to at­tend the pro­ces­sions. Now, peo­ple stay back in the puja ground to bid god­dess Durga good­bye and en­joy ev­ery bit of it,” shared Acharya.

C. R. Park’s B-Block has been us­ing bio-degrad­able colours for years now and this year they have also banned the use of poly­styrene ( ther­mo­col) for dec­o­ra­tion pur­poses. This year, the idol will be made en­tirely of mud, in­clud­ing the hair and or­na­ments of the god­dess. “We leave the idol for four-five days to get dis­solved in wa­ter, then we spread the wa­ter on the ground, and re­turn the struc­ture to the idol­mak­ers for re­use. In­stead of ther­mo­col, we are us­ing shola [a bio-degrad­able ma­te­rial] for pan­dal dec­o­ra­tions. We will also avoid plas­tic plates and other plas­tic items,” in­formed Acharya.

About this ini­tia­tive, Acharya con­cluded, “It’s a year­long process of or­gan­is­ing eco-friendly Durga Puja and B-Block is get­ting there with time. Bring­ing about change takes time and courage and Maa Durga is a sym­bol of courage and strength.”

PHOTO-DI­PANKAR BARUA.

Puja pan­dal set up in 2017 by the C.R. Park Pocket-52 Durga Puja Com­mi­tee.

Bhoomi bis­ar­jan in C.R. Park, from last year.

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