Several big-ticket Durga puja committees in Kolkata have adopted traditional themes for their pandals this year, inspired by the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage tag bestowed on Bengal’s biggest festival.
Many ‘barowari’ (community) pujas have given contemporary themes a miss as they believe that people, in their search of novelty, are losing touch with their culture and traditions.
At Bosepukur Sitala Mandir, committee president Kajal Sarkar said ‘ekchala pratima’ (idols of deities mounted on one frame) has been installed in the marquee that resembles a dilapidated zamindar palace.
”The ‘natmandir’ (temple) has been set up in the middle of the pandal, which is modelled after a zamindar palace under renovation. The idol has been installed amid a pile of rubble,” Sarkar said, adding that the theme ‘Punornobikaran’ (reviving the old) has already garnered praises.
On the pathway leading to the marquee, artefacts of ancient era – prehistoric sculptures, urns, statues – have been put up to ”revive interest in our civilisation”, he added.
Some six kilometre away, Chetla Agrani, another crowd-puller puja in the city, has chosen ‘Sholokolay purno’ (fulfilment of all aspects/’Kola’ is also the Bengali word for banana) as its theme, dwelling on the role of banana trees in every ritual of Hindu Bengali households.
”We have decided to highlight the fact that banana trees are an inseparable part of all auspicious occasions at Hindu Bengali homes. At least 1.5 lakh banana trees have been used to give shape to this concept,” a puja committee spokesperson explained. At S B Park, Thakurpukur, terracotta work of Bishnupur adorns the two sides of the pandal, which is celebrating folk arts of Bengal this year.
A boat, made by artisans of Balagarh village in Hooghly, has also been installed at the pandal, with special lights fitted to depict water flowing beneath it.
”UNESCO teams visited our pandal on September 22 and 23. Eminent researcher Tapati Guha Thakurta, who was instrumental in securing the UNESCO tag, inaugurated the puja. There is no stopping pandal-hoppers this year,” Sanjay Majumder, spokesperson of S B Park puja, added., added.