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Burst of creativity at Kolkata Durga pandals

Festive mode: A marquee made of bamboo during Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata.

Festive mode: A marquee made of bamboo during Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

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NRC, fake news, Balakot air strike — organisers tackle diverse themes to woo devotees.

Diverse, unique, and thought-provoking and with myriad themes such as the National Register of Citizens, fake news, and Balakot air strike, the Durga Puja marquees (pandals) have come alive in Kolkata this autumn.

Almost 3,000 community Durga Pujas are organised in the State capital and another 25,000 in the districts and every Puja organiser is trying to do something different through themes, lightings and decorations all aimed at wooing the people to their pandal.

While a Durga Puja pandal at Vivekananda Sarbojanin Durgotsav has tried to tackle the subject of evolution of news and of how fake news reaches the public, the organisers at Young Boys Club Sarbojanin Durga Puja have created scenes from the Balakot air strike, where along with models of IAF jets, there is a life-size model of IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

The Rajdanga Naba Uday Sangha has tried to bring to the fore what is emerging as the most politically sensitive issue in the State, the NRC exercise in Assam. Refugees have been described and badminton rackets — representing two countries — have been slotted in front of the pandal.

The community Puja organisers have also tried to bring alive various monuments such as the golden temple of Amritsar revered by Sikhs at the Bhowanipore Baish Palli Northern Park. At Kharagpur’s Netaji Byamagar of West Midnapore, an attempt has been made to replicate the model of ancient Egypt, whereas at the Kumartuli Park Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee, in north Kolkata the theme is related to space and the extra-terrestrial intergalactic connections.

When it comes to spectacle and grandeur only a few can match the Santosh Mitra Square Durga Puja that has installed a 13 feet tall idol of the Goddess at an estimated cost of ₹20 crore.

Organisers have not shunned themes of social inclusion and highlighted the marginalisation of the third gender. At Dum Dum Tarun Dal, a song “tumi dekho nari pusush, ami dekhi sudhui manush” (you see only man and woman, but I see only the human) floated with reference to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s love for Lord Krishna, and the various taboos associated with the third gender.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 11:55:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/burst-of-creativity-at-kolkata-durga-pandals/article29611757.ece

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