Forget mere mortals, the weakening rupee has hit now the Goddess!
Puja organisers who had splurged even till last year, have tightened their purse strings this season since the dim corporate outlook has scared the sponsors, leading to expenditure cuts on idols, pandals, themes and illumination.
The rupee slide is pushing up prices and reducing corporate profits, which, in turn, is affecting Puja sponsors.
Such is the situation that several big organisers are yet to find a sponsor, with the Pujas barely 50 days away.
The chit fund meltdown in summer was a big blow.
Deposit mobilising companies, such as Saradha, Alchemist and Rose Valley, have either gone bust or are under tremendous pressure — both from regulators and from the market — with the flow of deposits reduced to a fraction compared with that in the the past few years.
“We’re compelled to slash our budgets. Such events as having a VIP inaugurate a Puja and holding lavish cultural programmes are a strict ‘no-no’. In fact, decorations and lights will also take a hit. We’ve decided to curtail our budget by 15% compared with that in 2012,” Rana Dasgupta of Lake Palli Puja Committee said.
Several organisers have also decided to sign agreements with sponsors.
This is being done to ensure that the sponsor pays the full amount as promised. Organisers claim the strategy has become a necessity because many companies fail to pay the sum once the Pujas are over.
“Usually, once the sponsor confirms an amount, they pay a part as advance. Once the festival is over, we have a tough time recovering the remaining amount. This has prompted the Forum for Durgotsav Committee to start the legal contract system. Several committees have already introduced it this year,” Dasgupta said.
If the declining value of the rupee has dimmed sponsors’ interest, the ground was prepared by the meltdown of chit fund companies earlier. According to the organisers, the only sector evincing some interest this year is food-processing and manufacturing companies, such as Venky’s, Pepsico and Walls.
“Some food and ice cream companies and automobile majors have shown interest. But we’re yet to finalise a single advertisement. The scenario was not so bad last year,” Partho Ghosh of Shiv Mandir, one of the blockbuster Pujas in the city, said.
The current state of affairs has forced organisers to approach more companies, seeking smaller amounts. This, they hope, will help spare the pinch.
“How many industries are there in the state? The city revolves round a handful of sponsors who give money to different Puja committees by turn. We’re also requesting people of our localities who stay abroad to donate,” Prabal Mitra of Bharatmata Puja Committee said.