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Pune goes back to the basics this Durga Puja

While back in Kolkata, many shared the heavy influence of theme pujas, in Pune however, most have decided to keep it traditional.

pune Updated: Sep 28, 2017 16:59 IST
Ananya Barua and Prachi Bari
Ananya Barua and Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
durga puja 2017,happy dussehra,dussehra
The Durga pandal at Kapse lawn, Pimple Saudagar, marks the widespread celebration of Durgotsav in the city.(HT Photo)

As the city decks up to welcome goddess Durga, ‘porbashi’ Bengalis (those living outside Bengal) and their associations, are busy making elaborate arrangements for the festival. While back in Kolkata, many shared the heavy influence of theme pujas, in Pune however, most have decided to keep it traditional.

“We began celebrating Durga Puja with an aim to instil Bengali values and culture in the next generations. As we are originally from Bengal, the memories of our motherland and how the festival is celebrated there is ripe in our minds but our children have not witnessed all that. So, through this we recreate the tradition and keep the culture alive in them,” said Soma Banerjee, main coordinator, Bengali Association of Pune.

Established in 1981, this association has been celebrating the festival for the past 36 years and believes in maintaining the old-world charm of the idol and the pandal.

Harping on the same ideology, Nandanik Sanstha celebrating Durga Puja at Rohi Villa, Lane 7, Koregaon Park, has plans to take the devotees on a trip to old ‘Calcutta’. Although, not adhering to the modern themes, this association marking the 14th year of Durga Puja celebrations, is creating a pre-independence atmosphere in Pune through its ‘Rajbari Shonatoni’, traditional idol and decoration.

“Such an occasion also provides a platform for exhibiting social responsibility and so we have ensured cleanliness and proper garbage disposal around our area. Also, only biodegradable materials are encouraged to be used at our premises,” said Shanta Datta, vice-president and cultural secretary, Nandanik Sanstha. To further ensure proper traffic management, the organisation has also tied up with a cab facility to provide moderately priced and convenient trips to the pandal, from Kalyaninagar, Vimannagar, Boat Club road and adjoining areas.

In their 78th year, The Greater Poona Sarbojanin Durgotsav organised by the Bangiya Sanskriti Samsad, also known as Congress Bhawan puja, has decorations made of ‘sola pith’, an Indian cork which has been inspired by a small village in Bengal. The Durga idol and the pandals, however, follow the traditional simplicity.

At Banga Bharati, Pimpri-Chinchwad, artisans have crafted an entrance gate resembling the 'atchala' style temple gate, which literally translates as, eight faces of the roof. One of the oldest in Pimpri-Chinchwad, the association as part of the celebrations will also be serving ‘prashad’ (holy food) to almost 5,000 devotees.

However, in some parts of city, organisers have managed to create a confluence of cultures to enhance the theme of the puja. “This year our Durga idol has been influenced by intricate Rajasthani art, but the high point lies in the idea whereby we have 11 Durgas at the pandal, instead of one. The idea here is that every woman has Durga within her, and so, overlooking the main idol, we have 10 idols of ‘trinayani’ which is woman with three eyes of wisdom, welcoming the goddess,” said AN Mukherjee, general secretary, Abahan, Nagar road.

Further, one of the oldest in Pune, 78-year-old Khadki Kalibari Durga puja has also decided to embrace theme puja, by replicating Delhi’s Lotus temple this year. To instil a multicultural and inclusive spirit in the celebrations, Anup Dutta, general secretary, said, “The inauguration of the celebrations was done on September 26 by three paraplegic soldiers who are also medallists at the Paralympics. Also, in terms of cultural events, we have coupled the traditional Bengali drummers, ‘dhakis’ performance, with that of Maharashtrian dhol tasha,” he added.

Another theme-based puja in the city is being held at Baner’s Paschim Poona Bangiya Parishad, where the pandal is a replica of the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. “Our decorations are in alignment with the Sun temple, with a 3D effect feel given to goddess Durga. But, as an extension, this year we are also practising the theme of green puja, wherein all the food stalls will be using only biodegradable materials like plates made of paper and acacia nut leaves. Also, instead of flexes, this year we have digital invites and LED boards enlisting the daily programmes,” said Sandeep Munshi, vice-president of the association.

First Published: Sep 28, 2017 16:56 IST