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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Traditional pandals at Delhi’s ‘mini Kolkata’ get a modern touch

CR Park in south Delhi has 12 Durga Puja venues where thousands from Delhi-NCR visit to celebrate the festival. Some Puja committees have now started organising pandals as per a theme while others stick to the traditional way.

delhi Updated: Sep 25, 2017 11:26 IST
Ritam Halder
Ritam Halder
Hindustan Times
A Durga Puja pandal at Pocket 40 in CR Park on Sunday.
A Durga Puja pandal at Pocket 40 in CR Park on Sunday.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Durga Puja is here and Chittaranjan Park is ready.

There are 12 venues spread over this South Delhi colony and neighbouring GK and Alaknanda, which becomes a traffic nightmare during the four days of Puja with thousands of people from all corners of Delhi and NCR coming to this corner of the Capital for a slice of Bengal.

Some Puja committees have now started organising pandals according to a theme, a concept that has become popular in Kolkata in the past two decades. Others, still stick the traditional model pandals. What is common between them is fun and frolic, lipsmacking food, cultural functions, community lunches and prayers amid dhaak beats.

In 1954, Chittaranjan Park came into existence by the name of the EPDP Association (East Pakistan Displaced Persons’ Association). It was assigned as a Bengali Colony and people residing in various parts of Delhi moved in to this New Bengali residential area. The 70’s witnessed the start of Durga Puja celebrations in Chittaranjan Park.

At the B-block Puja committee venue, this year, the idol will be adorned in daaker saaj. These embellishments are primarily made from silver foil and further enhanced with silver sequins.

“This is our 42nd year. The pandal will be in the shape of a Mandir. It is a very conventional Bengali design. We will be going modest with the celebrations. Everything is minimalist. This will help the environment, too. Whatever money we save, we will develop the local park with it,” said Ashim Banerjee, spokesperson of the committee.

B-block has also been doing on site immersion for the past three years.

“Senior citizens can be a part of the visarjan this way as they can sit and watch the crane immerse the Durga idol in the water tank on our premises,” Banerjee said.

Diteet Paul of the Pocket 52 Puja Committee also stressed on celebrations without the garish extravagance and pomp without the collateral cost.

“We are building a traditional Bengali rajbari (royal home) as our pandal but have really kept check on costs. We have been talking about eco-friendly Puja for quite some time now, and in 2013 we were the first ones to start on site immersion. Praying doesn’t mean polluting. We don’t need to go the river and add to its toxicity. Responsible celebrations is a different kind of joy,” Paul said.

In pocket  40, artisans are trying to set up A pandal in the form of a grand temple.
In pocket 40, artisans are trying to set up A pandal in the form of a grand temple. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO )

At Pocket 40, Shambhu Haldar and his team are working diligently to create a grand mandir on a section of the colony ground.

“I have been coming to Delhi for the past 8-10 years to build pandals during the Puja season. This year, we are using sor kathi, khori and ice-cream sticks, to embellish sections of the pandal. Belur Math has been done in Kolkata earlier by Puja organisers but not in Delhi,” Shambhu, who lives near Kalighat in South Kolkata, said.

He and 20 other fellow artists are in Delhi for more than a month and will get the venue ready by September 23.

Stalls selling different items have started coming up at various puja pandals in CR Park.
Stalls selling different items have started coming up at various puja pandals in CR Park. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO )

“This is our silver jubilee year. The mandap is a Belur Math-like structure. Artisans from Kanthi and Kolkata in West Bengal are showcasing their work, which is rare these days,” Utpal Ghosh, president of Navapally Puja Samity, said.

In the mandap, Niranjan Chitrakar from Kakdweep in South 24 Parganas in Bengal, is busy with colours on the idol.

“This year I am also doing the Cooperative Puja idol. The one here is fully clay. No cloth, plastic or any harmful material has been used. Even these are all water colours,” Niranjan said.

The nearby Cooperative Puja committee is showcasing Panchabhuta or five elements through Gond Art on it’s 42nd year of celebrating Durga Puja

“We will be showcasing the five elements using recycled and eco-friendly products. These are Earth or Prithvi, Water or Jal, Fire or Agni, Air or Vayu and then Ether or Akasha. We are using wooden planks, ply boards, jute ropes, bamboo, coconut shell, clay and butter paper. The Panchabhuta designs have been created with inspiration from the Gond Art Style, which is an Adhivasi art form, existing across Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Telengana and Odisha,” Snehita Roy Chakravorty, one of the organisers, said.

Cooperative Puja organisers, every year, come up with unique themes and have in the past built structures like Puri’s Jaganath Temple, Bangalore’s Vidhaan Souda, Sarnath Temple and Bangladesh’s Radha Swami Temple, among others.

“It all started in 1994, when we introduced the concept of mega pandals by building a replica of Kolkata’s iconic Victoria Memorial. These were made primarily of stretched cloth on bamboo frame,” she said.