Fancy pandals, the beat of dhaks (traditional drums) and lighting have heralded the beginning of Durga Puja in the city, where the festive spirit is unabated despite Games-related restrictions and low sponsorship.
In Chittaranjan Park (CR Park), where every year puja pandals compete each other in opulence, the organisers have gone all out in their preparations with varied themes — from Rabindranath Tagore to going eco-friendly — to highlight Bengali art and culture.
The Co-operative Puja Ground, in K-Block of Chittaranjan Park (CR Park), now in its 35th year, is celebrating Tagore's 150th birth anniversary this time.
“The decorations are inspired by Tagore’s paternal place, Shilaidaha (in Bangladesh), where a lot of his literary works have been composed. It is believed that, Tagore translated the Geetanjali from Bengali to English here, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913,” said Sandip Dutta Gupta, a member of the organising committee.
In the nearby B-block of CR Park, the puja samiti organisers are trying to replicate the palatial Sobhabazar Rajbari in Kolkata, where an aristocrat, Raja Nabakrishna Deb, organised Durga Puja in 1757.
Organisers of the Dakshin Palli Puja, CR Park, have decided to go green this year. "We are not using plastic or thermocol to decorate anything. Even the dress of the idol is made of mud and eco-friendly paint, so that when it is immersed, the Yamuna is not polluted," said Ashok Bose, one of the organising committee members.
Special lighting is the star attraction of Durgabari Society Kailash-Greater Kailash I. "This is a special year for us, so we are using Chandannagor lighting this year,” said Sujit Sengupta, general secretary.
In east Delhi, the Mayur Vihar Phase-I Kali Bari pandal, takes inspiration from the havelis of the zamindars.
Security worries Durga Puja organisers
Already worried about low sponsorship, several organisers of Durga Puja are now harassed about the security. Organisers said the Delhi Police, on duty for the Commonwealth Games, have told them police security cannot be provided for at least the first two days of the puja. “Being fully aware of the large-scale Durga Puja celebrations in the city, it was unwise to organise the Games at this time of the year,” said PK Roy, secretary of East Pakistan Displaced Persons, CR Park.
“Around 40% of our sponsorship was affected due to Games, so we are unable to call any big artistes,” said Ashok Bose, a member of the another puja organising committee in CR Park.
“We are hiring security guards from private agencies and have also incre-ased the number of volunteers this year,” said Ashim Banerjee, vice-president of B- block puja samiti.