Kolkata’s intriguing Puja Pandals– From social issues, self obsession to cycle of life

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Kolkata: If you are thinking what’s new about West Bengal’s Durga Puja this year? Then you are in for a surprise. The festival, which for the Bengalis is more of a homecoming of Goddess Durga than a religious occasion, has myriad offerings for the pandal hoppers. Right from addressing issues like eco-balance to fake medical practitioners to adding on the selfie bit to having magnum opus of a pandal designed as a replica of hit flick Bahubali’s palace, the pandals this year have a lot more on offer.

And why not? After all, for most, in this eastern part of India, Goddess Durga along with her four kids comes over to her maternal place from her sasural (in-laws place).

However, amidst thousands of pandals being designed to welcome Goddess Durga, a couple of them have been raising the expectation barometer of the Puja revellers, thanks to innovative spins that the theme designers have given to their respective pandals of 2017.

Selfie vs Self Zone

One such pandal is the one at SB Park Sarbojonin, Behala, Thakurpukur. Titled, From Selfie to Self, this extravagantly designed pandal, has about 5,500 small chairs being used to create a giant chair of 140ft height. With the organisers, letting loose their purse strings, the layout of the pandal is indeed quite innovative. It has two sections – one a self zone, where the Goddess has been placed.

In the selfie area, apart from CT scan plate, there are numerous medical equipments that are on display. On the walls of the selfie zone, numerous Bengali poems dealing with Ego has been inscribed.

Addressing social issues

The theme of Kolkata’s iconic Md Ali Park’s Puja Pandal, is simple – address social evils. Speaking to eNewsroom, Sanjay Sharma, head of the puja committee said, “Every year we try to give out a social message. Keeping in sync with our tradition, we have tried addressing the how fake doctors have become the new age demons.”

The Durga idols, at this pandal had Fake doctors as the demons. However, after intervention of CM Mamata Banerjee and request from IMA, the Doctor’s apron was removed from the demon. A closer look at the idol indicates that the idols are also addressing issues of violence against women.

Women power is the theme of this pandal
Women Shakti

Ajeyo Sanghati, Tollygunge Haridevpur, has Shakti Rupano as its theme. Made with a budget of Rs 35 Lakh, the area where the idols are placed is decorated with different types of things that are made of iron.

“These are simple daily use stuff that we never give so much importance. It is our message that nothing in this world is useless,” said Arijit Nandi, assistant secretary of the puja committee.

Iron pipes, shutters, window grills, water pipes, iron scissors, iron items from kitchen etc are being used for mandap decoration.The idol is a traditional one.

Nostalgia, music and more makes this Puja pandal interesting
Down the memory lane

Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja Committee, through its pandal, takes you down the memory lane. Themed as ‘Aabohan’ here the mandap is divided into three sections – sound, modern classical instruments and mantra.

In the sound section of the mandap, items like horn of a train, calling bell, rickshaw bell etc has been showcased. “Collection of radios starting from its invention model of 1903 to its modern avatar has been showcased in this section. Tools for making pillows and quilts have been displayed as well,” said Pradipta Nan, joint secretary of the puja committee.

Coding, decoding is the key to life
Decoding Durga?

Themed as Adhara’ or something which can’t be coded or deciphered, 95 Pally, Jodhpur Park, is stealing the thunder. The mandap here takes on the look of an old iron temple of Dorjis. The key highlight of the theme is that God is a concept or thought that cannot be deciphered. It is impossible for puny men to decode or understand the Supreme Being, the Pure Consciousness.

“However we try we can never be able to understand Pure Consciousness,” said Bijoy Dutta, general secretary of the puja committee. The mandap has been decorated with mirrors and lanterns. The background score and lights have been designed to match with the theme.

Immortal or Antheen

Eminent painter, sculptor and installation artist Bhawatosh Sutar has conceptualised the pandal as immortal or endless.

“Humans die but knowledge remains and is carried forward by another human being. It is an endless cycle. We have tried to showcase this cycle,” said puja convenor Samir Ghosh.

A single mahogany log has been sculptured in which one part is depicting Mother Goddess and the other part is depicting her consort Lord Shiva.

The mandap is very spacious so that both the side of the mahogany log can be seen by pandal hoppers. At the entrance a Shiva linga and a Yoni khatra made up of 2,000 shells have been made that symbolises the endless cycle of birth and rebirth.

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