During Durga puja, most cultural secretaries of Puja committees all over Delhi are under pressure to do a 'twist'. Different from the African-American plantation dance of the '60s, this twist is a pressure to present Bengaliana with a difference - in idol-making, mandap decoration, programme presentation - but with one constant: the 'Kolkata team' (of artistes, that is).
This Durga Puja (October 2-5) Navapalli Puja Samiti, Chittaranjan Park, will place the stage where Goddess Durga stands, "inside an iron hangar, instead of bamboo and the idol will have a peacock theme," points out cultural secretary Supratim Ghosh. The programme line-up includes performances by a strong contingent of vocalists from TV and Tollywood - Debojit Saha, a Sa Re Ga Ma Pa winner (Oct 2), Anupam Roy, singer of the Tollywood hit, Autograph, and local band Rishi.Inc, which has worked with AR Rahman (Oct 3), famous singer Antara Chowdhury, daughter of the legendary Salil Chowdhury (Oct 4) and Srabani Sen, sister of famous Rabindrasangeet exponent Indrani Sen (Oct 5).
Tradition gets equal play in these events. The Bengali Club Kashmere Gate puja, the oldest Durga puja in Delhi will host Tagore's Chandalika performed by a Kolkata troupe on Navami. Drama, however, says Samarendra Bose, Samiti chairman, is on the decline. "Earlier, local clubs would have drama competitions, now no one is able to devote time," he says. 'Local talent' (hyperbole for local kids), when they stage plays, dust out the same compositions - even the same Tagore productions - year after year.
This year, a few puja societies have suffered other pressures. Of the 13 pujas usually celebrated in Chittaranjan Park, Milan Samiti's puja is one of the biggest.
A Samiti member says the 'scene' is uncertain because of local apathy by a section of the RWA. "Tight budget, simple idol," is all that he would say.
East Delhi, another Bengali kasbah, however, is celebrating the festival with traditional fanfare. Kali Bari Mayur Vihar, Phase 1, to cater to the modern tastes, has roped in the anchor of a lifestyle show, and will showcase her singing talent. The "upcoming" Shaan (not the Bollywood singer), champ of a Bengali reality musical show will also do a show. Another highlight seems to be a look-back-and-reflect programme by local children on 50 years of Bollywood and Tollywood. The wood carving finish on the Durga idol will also be a big draw, promises its cultural secretary.
The idol at Pankha Road Banga Sammliani at Janakpuri, D block Institutional area, will really stand out in a tant (Bengali handloom) sari. Tant weavers from
Bengal will also be invited to give demos to visitors.
Bhog (food offerings to goddess that is offered back to devotees), as always, in all pandals will be served free of cost. Happy Puja!