How about offering prayers at the 'White House' this Durga Puja? A massive marquee, modelled on the grand official residence of the American president, is about to make that happen right here in Lucknow.
Around 50 artisans, mostly from Kolkata, are working tirelessly to get a wooden replica of the 'White House' ready in time for the five-day festival, which is celebrated mainly by Bengalis and begins from September 24 this year.
The Anand Nagar Durga Puja Committee (ANDPC) - one of the oldest puja organising committees in southern Lucknow - is spending a whopping Rs 800,000 on it.
"The replica of the White House is going to be one of the biggest attractions of the festival. People will enjoy coming and offering prayers there," Sujoy Chaterjee, assistant general secretary, ANDPC, told IANS.
It is quite the norm for puja organising committees across India to set up attractive marquees, locally known as pandals, where idols of goddess Durga and her four children are worshipped during the festival. Sometimes the marquee themes are quite novel and help draw in the crowds.
ANDPC will complete 51 years of existence this Durga Puja. Last year when the committee observed its golden jubilee, it had set up a wooden replica of the grand Meenakshi Temple of Tamil Nadu.
"Like for the Meenakshi Temple replica, this year too we expect a massive response. Most of us have only read about the White House. As we have never been there, we are curious to know more about it. This curiosity will draw huge crowds," said Chaterjee.
ANDPC expects not less that 2,500 visitors daily to their pandal.
According to ANDPC officials, the replica, made of wood, bamboo, thermocol and cloth, will be completed by September 20.
"Before Dussehra, which falls September 28, there will be Durga Puja celebrations. Once the replica gets completed by September 20, we will need at least three days to decorate it," said Chaterjee.
Lucknow has around 70-75 different Durga Puja celebrations every year.