Not just a festival, Durga Puja sustains 4 lakh for 6 months
Generates 15,000cr In West Bengal
Kolkata: Durga Puja, one of the biggest community festivals in the world, is also one of the largest employment generators in West Bengal, sustaining over four lakh people for more than six months every year.
With more than 10,000 Pujas across the state and 1,000 more in other parts of India and rest of the world, the festival has in recent years emerged as a hub of activity with each community Puja sustaining a micro-economy, particularly in Kolkata. From those erecting the pandals to the decorators, idolmakers to craftsmen, electricians to security persons, priests to dhakis (drumTMC MP Nusrat Jahan during ‘sindoor khela’ at a Puja pandal in Kolkata on Friday. The actor, criticised by an Islamic cleric for taking part in Durga Puja celebrations, shot back, saying she was ‘God’s special child’ who will spread the message of communal harmony
mers), the Pujas help thousands to eke out a living or boost their earnings.
“The five-day festival generates transactions worth Rs 4,500 crore in Kolkata and Rs 15,000 crore in the entire state,” says Kajal
Sarkar, president of Forum for Durgotsav, a body of the city’s 100 ‘mega’ Pujas. Indian Chamber of Commerce director general Rajeev Singh believes Durga Puja’s turnover in Kolkata could triple to Rs 15,000 crore in the next few years.
India Inc was quick to realise the magnetism of these Pujas and spot the opportunity to catch over a million eyeballs over five days. Soon, mega-bucks and sponsors followed. According to Ravi Poddar of Enkon and Avishek Bhattacharya of Brand & Beautiful, who play a major role in linking advertisers with Puja organisers, the corporate spending in Kolkata’s Pujas amount to nearly Rs 500-800 crore with advertisement through banners and gates accounting for nearly Rs 150 crore.
Puja organizers are no longer dependent on contributions from local residents. If the budget of more traditional and low-key Pujas is around Rs 15 lakh, that for the big ones can go up to Rs 1 crore depending on the location, size and execution of the theme. Corporate funding and outdoor advertising account for about 90% of the cost.