This Durga Puja, Lord Ganesh will not drink milk. He will hand over a laddoo to his devotees. But there is a catch. The hand that blesses with the sweetmeat will not move unless the devotee drops a coin of a specified value in the donation box placed beside the life-size Ganesh.
The elephant god mechanised by home-grown robotics specialists will not be the only attraction offered by the Moidam-Beltala Sarbajanin puja committee. The committee is experimenting with other ideas too. For instance, a ‘saas-bahu’ chamber within the puja mandap that opens when a visitor presses the calling bell. If the visitor is fortunate, he will be greeted by a flesh-and-blood ‘bahu’. The visitor’s ill-luck would translate into a badmouthing ‘saas’ driving him away from the doorstep.
If the puja committees are defying rising costs to put up a dazzling show, there is a reason: most of them are celebrating silver, golden or diamond jubilee while a few others are over 100 years old. Some puja committes are also decking up the goddess in chic.