Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee
The traditiol beat of Dhaki, the Kash flowers blooming in Autumn and the festive bonza with gift voucher offers in the dazzling malls South CityMall ,Diamond City, Acropolis, City Centre 1 and II , Mani Square where people of all ages on the buying spree and then there are the crowded restaurants like that of Aminia , Arsalan, Afraa , Bhajahari Man , 6 Ballygunge Place and with new Puja Premiere Show for release of Bengali films Byomkesh, Zulfikar Eagle er Chok, Kiriti in the PVR and Inox - sum up the essence of Kolkata Durgapuja ambience. Durgapuja is one of the biggest autumn festivals in the world. This is the only festival that is celebrated over the North India and North East India with a great fervor even by the non-Bengali and in some areas of Kolkata such as Park Circus by the Muslim people thus sending a great message of commul harmony. This five-day celebration now transcends religious boundaries.
Though four days are slotted for the puja, the festivity overlaps weeks before and after the puja till the Kalipuja celebrations. Colour and lighting, art and architecture, gaiety and festivity are all to enhance the happy mood of the people of Kolkata and those who come from outside. Like the Rongali Bihu of Assam, Durga Puja festival of Bengal is also a bonza of passiote colours, vibrant music and spiritual feelings enhancing the festive mood. It is an extravaganza that unfolds the age old tradition and culture the city explodes with more than thousand thematic and colorful pandals and reveals several forms of goddess Durga idols and concepts, thus attracting an unimagible number of crowds.
In outdoor display and cultural extravaganza Suruchi Sangha is a classy durgapuja pandal in Kolkata nearly 50 years old. This year they are celebrating the sixth year of their musical Theme with the song written by the Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee and won the best award for this music theme. Among the traditiol display Jodhpur Park is one of the most popular pandals in South Kolkata. ktala Udayan Sangha attracts a large number of visitors to their Puja for demonstrating the last word in simplicity, through its unique pandal architecture. Since the time of its first appearance in 1950 the ktala Udayan Sangha slowly emerged as a baroari Durga Puja in South Kolkata and it drew media highlights in 2003 for its innovation in theme and creativity of art conception. Stepping into its 82nd year this 2016, the Mudiali Club Durgatsab is has the distinction of winning the Asian Paints Sharad Samman Best Puja awards in the year 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1994 for their focus on the social issues and heritage display. The Singhi Park Sarbojanin Durgatsab has so far bagged several awards in different categories and thus it is one of the must visit pandals during the Durga Puja festival in Kolkata and this year too there is no exception. In the North Kolkata Sribhumi Sporting Club Durgapuja brought a great surprise for the visitors with the Puri Pandal architecture with distribution of free Khaja and Gaja for the visitors. The overcrowded pandal shows its attraction and the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came to iugurate the pandal mistakenly one day before the Bodhan and could not do it and left her good wishes for all. There are other heritage pujas such as the Singhi Park Sarbojanin Durgatsab which has upheld the traditiol way of worshipping the goddess Durga .The history of Singhi Park Durga Puja dates back to 1941 and it will be a proud occasion when it cuts the ribbon to mark the 75th year of Durga Puja celebration in 2016.
One of the heritage durga pujas is the Ekdalia Evergreen Club which represents a theme based on Indian Temples, in 2012 they brought up the Golden Temple in Vellore and in 2013 they kept it simple based on a traditiol Indian temple. But the most interesting aspect of Ekdalia Evergreen Club Durgatsab is that they preserve their age old form of traditiol Durga pratima
The Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha Durga Puja samity is going to celebrate its 30th year in 2015 and obviously, like every year… it’s going to come up with a promising and colourful theme, thus be ready to witness an increasing number of crowds.
In popularity and crowd of visitors, the Mohammad Ali Park Durga Puja is most notable of all. It presents several replicas of monuments – explored and unexplored – from all over the world… and diorama of ancient literature with the huge Jhar Lantern to illumite the pandal and the entire park area dazzles with colorful lightings. The Mohammad Ali Durga Puja Samity has won several awards in different categories and hence it is also undoubtedly one of the prestigious Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata. Kumartuli Park Durgatsab showcases a colourful combo of old-fashioned grandeur and art. Kumartuli, with its rrow maze of lanes and alleyways, is a settlement of hundreds of potters/artisans who earn their livelihood by sculpting idols for the various festivals. Everyone knows that the idols of goddess Durga and other deities sculpted by the potters of Kumartuli are also exported to Cada, US, UK and South East Asian countries for the Durga Puja Festival.
The Ahritola Sarbajanin Durgatsab, can be called the pioneer in the field of organizing Durga Puja festival, bringing in a traditiol and musical extravaganza. It organizes various musical and dance programmes – classical and western, and also participates in social activities like organizing Blood Dotion Camp, Health Camp, Eye Cure Camp, Free Distribution of Medicine, Free Distribution of Books and contributes generously in Minister’s Relief Fund when the situation arises.
The Telengabagan Sarbajanin Durgatsab samity tries to bring a trenchant chapter of Indian history and culture through its intrinsically designed pandals, interior works and different forms of goddess Durga and other deities sculpted distinctly. Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha and Bharat Chakra Durga Puja are a must visit for the magic of sheer creativity and social concern reflected in their efforts.
Many are still surprised that in a country where a deity like Durga is worshipped even by all male gods to get justice in their banished condition , women are victims of gender discrimition , tortured , raped and humiliated in all walks of life. All other goddesses Kali, Saraswati and Laxmi too are worshipped for strength, learning and wealth. But this country in its reality is patriarchal and women are domited like slaves. On the occasion of Durga Puja celebration festival, we can take the pledge to bring a new social consciousness and restore honour to our women at home and outside. Durga Mata is the icon of power and strength to counter the evil force embodied by Mahishasur and the victory is achieved in mythical story, while we still wait for such victory in social and domestic life.
(Dr Bhattacharjee is the Associate Professor and Head, Post Graduate Dept of English, Dum Dum Motijheel College and he may be contacted at email@example.com)