Shivaji Park’s Bengal Club, all set to celebrate its 77th annual Durga Puja from Saturday, will bring to the city one of West Bengal’s notable heritage structures. This year, the club has decorated the pandal to replicate ‘Thakurbari’, the ancestral abode of Bengali Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. The two-storey high pandal was designed over 25 days by art director Abhishek Redkar.
The pandal will witness lakhs of devotees over the five days and the committee has taken stringent security measures to manage the large crowd. “We have metal detectors and CCTVs monitoring the pandal at all times,” said Amit Chowdhury, vice president, Bengal Club.
The 22-foot idol is made of bio-degradable material. Soil from the Ganga was brought in and the idol was made by rural artisans. “We have excluded all toxic colours in the decorations and plates used in the bhog are also eco-friendly,” added Chowdhury.
A number of stalls set up next to the pandal will give visitors a chance to take home a bit of Bengali culture. “My father had set up a stall selling traditional shankha chudi and sindhoor 38 years ago and now I follow the tradition,” said Sambhu Nath who hails from Howrah district and manages one of the oldest stalls at the venue.
Non-Bengalis are also joining in the revellery. “Though I’m not a Bengali, attending this puja makes me feel like I am in West Bengal,” said Nandini Kaul, 45, who visits the mandal every year.
The area is also a silence zone, but that does not deter the committee’s enthusiasm. “Our aarti and hymns are chanted vocally. We avoid loudspeakers and ensure that the noise levels don’t exceed the permissible limit,” said Chowdhury.
The club will redirect the money collected from the devotee donation box and corporate sponsors towards various charities and causes. “We donate to the Ramkrishna Mission and organise monthly bhogs for the poor. We are also in the process of donating an ambulance to a hospital,” added Chowdhury.