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MeToo makes its entry into pandals, Ram Leela grounds in Delhi

At the Lanka Dahan in Red Fort, a fourth effigy — symbolic of the men accused of sexually harassing women in the online campaign — will also go up in flames.

delhi Updated: Oct 15, 2018 10:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ram Leela grounds,MeToo movement,Durga Puja
A view of a pandal ahead of Durga Puja, at Chittaranjan Park, in New Delhi, India, on October 14.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

As the city gears up for the festival of Durga puja as well as Ram Leela, devotees thronging the pandals and the grounds set to burn Ravana effigies across the capital will be greeted by themes of women empowerment — inspired by the ongoing #MeToo movement that has taken the country by a storm.

At the Lanka Dahan in Red Fort, a fourth effigy — symbolic of the men accused of sexually harassing women in the online campaign — will also go up in flames.

Rahul Sharma, press secretary of the Nav Shri Dharmik Leela Committee, said, “Every year, we burn the effigy of one social evil. This time, we are focussing on symbolically destroying the evil that has been exposed by the #MeToo movement.” The organisers, however, have promised to use smoke-free crackers to curb pollution.

In east Patel Nagar, Durga puja organisers, this year, have decided to hand over all responsibilities of the event to an all-women committee. “All these years, men were in the leadership position at our pandal. This time, it was decided that women, who are equally capable of organising the event, will handle everything,” said Shelly Bhowmick, a HR professional, the general secretary of the pandal being set up at the east Patel Nagar Puja Park.

While puja committees at Chittaranjan (CR) Park — that remains the hub of Durga puja celebrations in Delhi — has decided on quintessentially Bengali themes such as ‘folk dancers of Bengal’ and ‘rural Bengal’ for the pandals, the materials used for their construction and decoration have been chosen in such a way that there is as little damage to the environment as possible.

CR Park is expected to witness a daily footfall of over thousands of people on Monday onwards.

The plates at the pandal at the Cooperative Ground in Chittaranjan Park will be made of barks of betel nut trees. “The cost will rise nearly three times but we are going all out to ensure no plastic item is used,” said Subir Dutta, an organiser of the puja.

The pandal will be made of paper mache, Dutta said. “We have been focusing on eco-friendly pujas over the last one decade. On earlier occasions, we used eco-friendly items such as jute, plywood and mud for the purpose,” he maintained.

At the Durga Puja Samiti in CR Park’s Mela Ground, organisers have decided to use alloy to ensure a weather-proof pandal.

“We procured the material from Germany. It is the first time such a pandal is being made in Delhi,” said Pranab Chaudhary, an organiser. According to Muktipada Chakraborty, senior priest at the Kali Bari temple, most pandals were thrown open on Sunday and will see a heavy rush from devotees until Friday.

Debashish Bhowmick, one of the organisers of the Kali Bari temple puja, said all arrangements have been made at the temple complex to ensure visits of VIPs do not affect that of the others. “Every devotee makes it a point to visit the Kali Bari temple at least once during the five-day celebrations,” said Bhowmick.

The traffic police, meanwhile, said they will soon issue traffic advisory and deploy its staff in full strength across Delhi-NCR.

First Published: Oct 15, 2018 10:22 IST