From a tribute to Manna Dey and Hemanta Mukherjee to eco-friendly idols, Durga Puja organisers at Chittranjan Park are paving the way to inspire today’s youth, discovers Chahak Mittal while Pankaj Kumar captures the preparations
Bengali legends hover over our consciousness, mostly as a memory than everyday reality. Which is why Durga Puja organisers in Chittranjan Park are passing on the legacy to Gen Next by bringing alive two of the state’s music maestros, Hemanta Mukherjee and Manna Dey, with the hope that they can inspire the renaissance among today’s people.
This is the 44th year at the Cooperative Ground Durga Puja Samity, CR Park, and to commemorate it, the pandal is themed after the 100th birth anniversary of the Bengali legends. Subhadeep Dev, treasurer, said, “We’ll be showcasing their work. There will be artists’ murals and life-sized images around the pandal in their various moods. We have also set up a music competition, where performing their songs will be mandatory,” said he.
Pointing towards the craftsmen, who were busy cutting out various motifs and the artists’ sketches on thermocol sheets, he added that these men have travelled from Kolkata and have been working relentlessly over the past few days. So why is it that they chose this theme? He said, “It is to pay a tribute to them and remember their contribution towards Indian cinema, arts and culture.”
As we entered the park, the puja pandal looked as if immersed in deep red, while sharp golden cursive motifs on its walls gave it a regal look — almost reminding one of a Broadway musical stage with its bright red curtain. Dev, who has been in the organising Samity for the past 10 years now, said, “This year’s pandal is conceptualised to recreate the golden era of music. It will also witness musical, cultural and entertainment evenings throughout the festival.”
Apart from various cultural programmes, the celebrations will see a performance by Ankita of Sa Re Ga Ma of ZEE Bangla 2019-fame. Amit Paul of Indian Idol-fame and the rock band, Krakers, will also performing.
There are other concepts at play, too, like the one on climate change and saving the environment. Baked clay, gypsum and Plaster of Paris (PoP) have been the pre-dominant materials to carve and shape the goddess’ idols. “However, this year’s approach is to use toxic- and chemical-free material to create the idols, which eventually have to be immersed in the water. We have not used any PoP,” said Dev. It rather has been replaced by soluble clay and some recyclable waste material, whereas, chemical-based paints have been replaced by water soluble organic colours and natural dyes.
Apart from eco-friendly idols, the organisers are adopting the ‘Go Green — Save the Yamuna’ initiative as a new step forward in protecting the Yamuna and not contaminate it by immersing the idols there. All the grounds are making their own artificial ponds for immersion within our park boundaries. “With this initiative, we pledge to curb pollution as much as possible,” said Kallol Acharyya, secretary of the Samity. “Our main focus has been the quality of Bhog (Langar) as we have a footfall of around 20,000 people each day. However, we have introduced eco-friendly plates, made from areca leaf, this time,” he added.
Talking about security arrangement, Kallol said, “We get around five to six lakh footfalls every year and we undertake massive security arrangements to ensure no untoward incident takes place.” Dev pointed out to another important factor that has been adopted by the committee. “We are also constructing a cover for the pit to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in the clean water. It’s a matter of great concern of people’s safety as unused water ponds could be a home for mosquitoes,” said he.
Ashim Mukherjee, organiser from the Mela Ground Pandal, said that installing a pond inside the park campus is a really good initiative. “And with the NGT mandate, more pandal committees are following it up. This would also make people realise how devotion to the environment is as important as it is to the goddess,” he said.
An organiser from the Dakshin Palli Puja Ground Samiti (Pocket 52) said that they are only using water colours and thermocol is not being used. Even the saree of the idol is being made from clay, which will be later painted with soluble, toxic-free colours.
While the immersing pit at Pocket 52 is 10 feet deep, and 13 feet at Mela Ground, it’s 12 feet deep at the Navapalli Puja Ground.
An organiser from the Kali Mandir Society said that when the mandate against using the Yamuna river for immersion came, Ashvaita Bhowmick, director, decided to do it at their water harvesting pitch.
Comparing the costs with the previous years, the budgets haven’t dipped, rather have only gone to the next level. Dev said, “This year’s budget for the Cooperative Ground Samity is `65 lakh, more than the last year’s, which was around 45.” Clearly, there is no slowdown when it comes to festive celebrations.
Monday, 30 September 2019 | Chahak Mittal