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Celebrating the unsung heroes of Durga Puja

Come every Durga Puja and these folks are busy working behind-the-scenes to make your celebrations a success. It’s time to hear their stories.

more lifestyle Updated: Oct 09, 2016 11:59 IST
Nabanita Das
Dhakis perform in front of a Durga Puja pandal.
Dhakis perform in front of a Durga Puja pandal.(Shutterstock)

As we soak in the festivities of Durga Puja, have you ever wondered about those people who relentlessly work behind the scenes to make the celebration a success?

From pandits to dhakis, from cooks to cops, while we break all barriers to enjoy the festival, these hardly -acknowledged bunch of hard working folks work day and night to make the Puja happen smoothly.

In a heart-to-heart conversation with these unlauded heroes, HT City aims to bring forward their life stories and show a different side of the festival.

Meet the dhaki : The traditional dhol of Bengal, dhak, is a quintessential part of the celebrations. The community gathers around the mandap and dances to its beats on these five days. But the dhakis (drummers) are a neglected bunch. Chanchal Patra of Midnapore, small village of Bengal, says, “Takar janyo toh bari chere astei hoy. Ki korbo! (We have to leave home for money, what can be done!)”

Meet the Purohit: For all priests aka purohits, the festival time is not for merry-making, but for work. The major portion of their yearly income is dependent on this festival. Purohit Anil Kant Goswami, who hails from Kolkata, says, “During this period, we travel to Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. My family also accompanies me and we’re able to witness pujo outside Bengal. But, we still miss pujo back home.”

Meet the bawarchi : Durga Puja is festival where food takes centrestage. It is And a essential part of this fest is the ‘bhog’ cooked. Dilip, the head cook of D block Pujo at CR Park, who shoulders responsibilities of cooking for more than 2000 devotees, says, “We cook Khichuri, labda and payesh that is offered to maa. My day starts at 4 in the morning and I hardly get to rest during these days.”

Meet the policewala : The duty of a cop is strenuous and more so when they leave their families and venture out to unknown cities to protect unknown people as they immerse in celebrations. On such officer on duty, says, “The day we joined the police force, we knew life will be difficult. For us, duty is above all family ties.”

Durga Puja pandal volunteers in CR Park, New Delhi, on October 06, 2016. (Shivam Saxena/HT Photo)

Meet the women volunteers : The five-day festival has a series of complicated rituals that requires dedicated women participants in front of the idol for hours. Boby Das, one such volunteer at CR Park, D Block pujo, says, “During these four days, we almost forget that we have a family too. Our families are supportive and they don’t disturb us during these days.”