Kolkata

Biggest open air art show – Durga Puja – kicks off in Kolkata

The much-awaited festival of Kolkata, Durga Puja, described often as biggest open air art-instaliation, took off with flying colours. Like every year, there are many extravagant themes, pandals, art works and installations. The Hindu visited few of such Pujas.

 

Beliaghata 33 Pally puja, in North Kolkata, paid a tribute to the classic ‘yellow-black taxis’, manufactured by Hindustan Motors. The company halted their production of ambassadors from 2014 for the lack of demand. Beliaghata 33 pally, in a way, creates an obituary for the iconic ambassador. Tamal De, a member of the Puja committee said that they created the theme to revive the memories of the “heritage taxis.” The pandal is decorated with car doors, taxis, head lights, wheels and other parts of the iconic four wheeler. Theme music, by eminent musician Joy Sarkar, using horns, metallic garage sound or street ambience, makes Beliaghata Puja as one of this year’s most interesting experiments.

Plastic recycling is a process of recovering scrap and reprocessing the material into useful products. Keeping this in mind Abasar Sarbojanin Durgotsav (Bhawanipur) of has creatively used plastic bottles, cups and bags to construct animal and human figures. The entrance has a gigantic octopus made of colourful plastic packets with a number of patch work by artist Somnath Mukherjee followed by a dinosaur made out of plastic cups. The social message of recycling plastic has been depicted by the utilisation of over two lakh various plastic materials. Mukherjee said that the budget didn’t take a leap due to the usage of unused plastic materials.

In the age of social media, the old-world charm of letters and postcard has disappeared. Golaghata Sammilani Puja of North Kolkata revives the reminiscence of old-world communication. The pandal is created using letter boxes, postcards, stamps, etc. there is a huge statue of postmaster carrying a bag of letters. Abhishek Jaiswal, treasurer of Golaghata Sammilani puja, said, that the theme is “an effort to recall the importance of letters and postcards.”

Santosh Mitra Square is one of the most famous pujas in Kolkata and this year it turned 81. The theme is based on dwelling in moon. Natural catastrophes like earthquake is happening frequently and can lead to major destruction. So keeping that in mind, Pradeep Ghosh, treasurer of the puja, said, “With this theme we are suggesting that it is a plausibility to travel to moon and construct a house there because no consolidated measures have been found out to eradicate earthquake. So in the face of such calamity, seeking shelter at the moon can be an option.” Within the premises of the pandal, there are few interesting ornamental structures like that of two astronauts that creates an ambience and feel of space.

The pandal of College Square Puja is inspired from a temple in London. One side of it is Hindu another side is Muslim. The temple marks religious harmony. The premises of the temple are decorated with various gigantic structures of insects decorated with little bulbs. In fact, the specialty of College Square is its sumptuous use of colourful lighting that increases the opulence of the place.

War is a terrible evil. Today, armed battle between nations causes big sufferings and bloodshed. Hindustan Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee, who organizes one of the oldest puja’s in South Kolkata since 1931 presented the theme of “Make peace for the world to be a better place”. The pandal is designed with bombs hanging on both sides along with cannons, shield and sword made out of fibre and mud. Artist Swapan Pal has thoughtfully kept all the idols unarmed including the Mahisasura closely sticking to the theme. “Hindustan Park always portrays uncommon themes to which people can immediately connect”, said Arjya Dasgupta, a localite.

In many of the Pujas this year the goddess is not holding any weapons, as is the ritual. Perhaps one of the best idols without any weapon is created by artists Mallica Das Sutar and Bhavatash Sutar in South Kolkata’s Thakupukur area. The idol is not gorgeously dressed and resembles ordinary people. The ambience music and song of this Puja, which is described as “an unbelievable” work of art by singer-song wrier Kabir Suman, is also unique and designed by Suman himself. [Photo credit: Kabir Suman’s Facebook page].

Kolkata,                               Date: 07/10/2016.
Workers are using mosquito nets to protect themselves from mosquito borne diseases like dengue at a Durga puja pandal in south Kolkata on Friday.
Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Kolkata, Date: 07/10/2016. Workers are using mosquito nets to protect themselves from mosquito borne diseases like dengue at a Durga puja pandal in south Kolkata on Friday. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

However, the spoilsport of this year’s Puja was Dengue. The vector-borne disease has taken the proportion of an “epidemic” as described by the media. So many of those – the Dhak players, the idol makers or the electricians – who come from distant places to make the Puja a success carried or bought mosquito nets, while sleeping in the open space in front of the goddess. “The goddess can not protect us from Dengue,” said a Dhak player, Somnath Nahar.

Kolkata,                                              Date: 09/10/2016.
People throng at a community Durga puja pandal in south Kolkata during the Sandhi puja, an important ritual on second day of four day long Durga puja festival in Kolkata.
Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Kolkata, Date: 09/10/2016. People throng at a community Durga puja pandal in south Kolkata during the Sandhi puja, an important ritual on second day of four day long Durga puja festival in Kolkata. Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

While the creativity in Bengal peaks during Durga Puja, through various pandals based on experimental themes, most of the Puja committees did not encourage changes in the idols. The idols thus remained reasonably traditional in tens of thousands of Pujas across the State.

[Photo & text by Sulagna Pal and Abhigyan Dasgupta. The writers are intern with The Hindu , Kolkata]


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Printable version | Jul 3, 2022 5:28:57 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/Biggest-open-air-art-show-%E2%80%93-Durga-Puja-%E2%80%93-kicks-off-in-Kolkata/article15440115.ece