Large crowds were seen in several Durga Puja pandals in the city on Thursday as the Kolkata Police was deployed for crowd management. With the festive revelry starting a few days before the anticipated time Kolkata Commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal said the deployment would be in place until Vijaya Dashami and the Puja Carnival organised by the State government.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has been inaugurating a number of community Pujas over the past few days also added on social media, “The entire State is in a festive mood and I am very happy to see a smile on everyone’s faces”.
About 40,000 Durga Pujas have come up in West Bengal of which 3,000 are located in Kolkata. The State government has decided to pay ₹60,000 to each of the Durga Puja organising clubs.
Using different themes and motifs and decoration of the Durga Puja pandals are drawing large crowds after two years of COVID-19 pandemic. Durga Puja pandals have come on a host of themes from the Vatican City at Sreebhumi Sporting Club to vintage gramophone and radio era with Akashvani Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsava Samiti and Sourav Ganguly iconic moment at Lords Balcony at Garia’s Navo Durga Puja.
Organisers have tried to capture 75 years of Indian Independence at Babubagan Sarbojanin Durgotsav and an attempt to be more inclusive has been made by three community Puajs- Hazra Park Durgotsab Committee, State Bank Park in Thakurpukur and Young Boys Club in the Chitpur by installing a Braille display stand outside the Puja pandal.
Among the other attractions are the Bidhan Sarani Atlas Club in Kolkata’s Shyambazar area where only those bringing pets would be allowed. Another Puja committee spokesperson of Nawpara Dadabhai Sangha in Baranagar has created a 10-feet idol made of silicon. Decoration of some of the pandals like Chor Bagan in north Kolkata using bottles of different shapes and sizes and the Ballygunj Cultural Club with pat paintings depicting various mythological stories, are also attracting a lot of visitors.
A total of 17,000 Kolkata police personnel, including 10,000 home guards, have been posted across the city and 400 pickets have been set up at various locations. About 58 PCR vans and 41 quick response teams have been deployed. The Kolkata Police has also organised a special Puja Parikrama for 150 children with special needs and about 400 elderly members of Pranam, a special community aim to serve senior citizens.
Meanwhile the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a cyclonic circulation to emerge over the northeast and eastcentral Bay of Bengal around October 1 which can bring showers to the city from Mahasaptami, which falls on October 2. The festivities of Durga Puja started early this year with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee organising a huge rally in the city on September 1 to celebrate UNESCO’s recognition of Durga Puja in Kolkata as an ‘Intangible heritage of humanity’.