This year, Durga ush­ers in love for en­vi­ron­ment

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Suhina.Bis­[email protected] times­group.com

New Delhi: It’s dif­fi­cult to miss the Pujo buzz in Chit­taran­jan Park these days. Pan­dals are com­ing up every­where and peo­ple are warm­ing up with com­pe­ti­tions and sports meets. Ma­ha­laya, in­vo­ca­tion of God­dess Durga, on Satur­day morn­ing – with the Sheuli (night-flow­er­ing jas­mine) in full bloom – has her­alded the be­gin­ning of the fes­tiv­i­ties though the ‘dhaak’ beats and ‘dhunuchi naach’ are still a week away.

This year it’s eco-friendly all the way – from the pan­dals to the pits be­ing cre­ated for on-the-spot im­mer­sions. “The idols are all made with clay and are com­pletely ecofriendl­y — from paints to the other ma­te­ri­als,” says Ashi­tava Bhowmik, pres­i­dent of Chit­taran­jan Park Kali Mandir So­ci­ety.

The tem­ple is the hub of Ben­gali so­cial and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties in the area and the Pujo is a tra­di­tional one, with an ‘ EkChela’ idol i.e all idols in one frame. In the tem­ple’s back­yard, artists are at work, giv­ing fin­ish­ing touches to the idols that will soon travel to dif­fer­ent parts of NCR.

“The ma­te­ri­als are all ecofriendl­y, and one main Durga idol will be im­mersed,” says P K Paul, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Dak­shin Palli Durga Puja Samiti (Pocket 52). “We are us­ing only wa­ter colours and no ther­mo­col. We’re also ma

GREEN STEP: king the sa­ree from clay. This year we will also be ex­ten­sively us­ing wooden spoons, pa­per cups and plates,” he adds, re­flect­ing the con­cern over phas­ing out of sin­gle-use plas­tic. This is echoed by Mela Ground Pujo’s com­mit­tee mem­ber, Ashim Mukher­jee, who says the idols are made of Ganga mati and that no chem­i­cals have been used.

What was started in Pocket 52 six years back is now be­ing repli­cated across the colony. No one wants to talk about the

The idols are all made with clay and are com­pletely eco-friendly — from paints to the other ma­te­ri­als

ASHI­TAVA BHOWMIK

im­mer­sion — with the Agomoni (wel­com­ing Mother) songs fill­ing the air — but ar­range­ments have to be made since Ya­muna is out of bounds this year. Most of the com­mit­tees are dig­ging pits at the venues. Pocket 52 will im­merse its 10ft high idol in an un­der­ground pit. None of the idols mea­sures 5ft or less, as had been ear­lier stip­u­lated by the Delhi gov­ern­ment – It’s 13ft at Mela Ground and 12ft at Nava­palli Puja Samity. While the for­mer will im­merse the idol at their own ground, the lat­ter will go to a place al­lo­cated to them near Lo­tus Tem­ple.

Kali Mandir So­ci­ety has come up with a unique solution. “The idol is around 5ft high, but if you in­clude the base and the chal­chi­tra, it’ll be around 10ft. Since Ya­muna isn’t an op­tion, we will use our wa­ter har­vest­ing pit for the im­mer­sion,” says Bhowmik.

The or­gan­is­ers are not let­ting the eco­nomic gloom af­fect their mood and fes­tiv­i­ties. Bhowmik says their bud­get is Rs 60 lakh, the same as last year. The tem­ple may be bet­ter placed to mo­bilise re­sources, but even a smaller pujo like Dak­shin Palli (Pocket 52) – cel­e­brat­ing its sil­ver ju­bilee – has a bud­get of Rs 35 lakh, higher than last year.

Co­op­er­a­tive Ground, known for its taste­fully-dec­o­rated, theme-based pan­dals and pop­u­lar food stalls has a bud­get of Rs 65 lakh. Sec­re­tary Kal­lol Acharya says the bud­get is hardly an is­sue with many PSUs will­ing to pitch in.

A far cry from the Kolkata pu­jos in scale and grandeur, these pu­jos are still an oc­ca­sion to cel­e­brate mythol­ogy, spir­i­tu­al­ity, art and cul­ture. The B block Pujo, says com­mit­tee mem­ber Sayan Acharya, has adopted a theme of the print on Ben­gali sa­rees with ma­roon, yel­low, red and white be­ing high­lighted. The Co­op­er­a­tive Ground Pujo is pay­ing trib­ute to two leg­endary artistes, Manna Dey and He­mant Ku­mar, points out Acharya.

Nava­palli’s Sam­rid­dhi says their theme is ‘astradaan’. “We be­lieve that all gods gave their as­tras (weapons) to Maa Durga and that’s what we will project in our Pujo this time. There is also a spe­cial fo­cus on the third eye of the god­dess that you will get to see in the pan­dal.”

Show­ing con­cern for the el­derly, Nava­palli has made spe­cial ar­range­ments for them. “We have even in­vited peo­ple from nearby old-age homes,” says gen­eral sec­re­tary Ravi Kant Singha. In fact, many pan­dals have spe­cial ar­range­ments for the old dur­ing dis­tri­bu­tion of the daily bhog.

Pho­tos: Piyal Bhat­tachar­jee

The CR Park Co­op­er­a­tive Ground Puja com­mit­tee is con­struct­ing a per­ma­nent tank for im­mer­sion of Durga idols

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