Durga Puja – the term itself holds a bag-full of emotions and creates a whole different vibe especially among Bengalis not only in West Bengal but across the globe expanding to various other countries besides India. This is that period of time when people hold no sense of time and enjoy to the fullest from day to night. But this is not about those 10 days. Preparation for puja begins with shopping, months prior to the actual occasion. This is the time when chaat, puchka, fast food stalls on the streets are lined, and health-conscious Bengalis neglect to compromise with what they eat.
There are several Durga puja pandals in Kolkata, but some stand out more than others as a result of their enthral artwork. Every year the various puja committees challenge each other to stand out and gather as many entrants as possible. But this year is no same. How can we forget the worldwide pandemic that’s been prevailing upon us? Keeping every protocol in mind, the CM of West Bengal has agreed to resume the biggest festival of West Bengal with some obvious norms and guidelines.
10 most popular Durga Puja Pandals in Kolkata:
Deshapriya Park is worth being foremost on the list of best puja pandals. It is known for its “tallest idol of goddess Durga in the world” that got hands on the Limca Book of Records. Usually, it keeps its visitors on the edge of their seats every year by making startling appearances, but this year is no same. There will be no theme-based pandals or breath-taking idols, but they have surely compensated in either way. The committee of Deshapriya Park had provided food to over 300-400 of the underprivileged population on every Sunday throughout the complete lockdown period. The expense for this distribution was taken from the budget set for the Pujo arrangement. Committee members have decided to keep the pandal simple and traditional this year to attract fewer people.
Samaj Sevi Sangha
Samaj Sevi Sangha is no less than any other puja organization. Many might know them by their famous and longest road alpona in 2017. This Sangha was embodied during the India-Pakistan division to mentally and physically support the people participating in the riots. This is the 75th year since the sangha was formed. Initially, there were heavy plans to celebrate this milestone but now that corona has no plans to leave, it has been decided to keep it simple with no particular theme. As the name itself suggests, the aim is to convey a message about the badly affected population in Amphan and the corona pandemic. Every guideline given by the government will be followed and there will be a drive-in facility for the ones visiting with vehicles.
The palace belonged to Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb who began his life as an aristocrat but later was rewarded with abundant wealth by the Britishers for his service, enough to build the royal palace. The royal family celebrates Durga Puja every year not only among themselves but for all the interested folks. Its magnificent yet traditional Durga draws the attention of all its devotees. But this year, due to strict precautions, only family members will be able to get the imposing sight of Maa Durga along with some outsiders carrying an invitation card. The family has decided to play tape recordings instead of involving actual Dhakis but no dhaki will be deprived of their wages.
Mudiali has never been among the theme pujas, but the mesmerizing architecture of its pandal has never failed to flabbergast its visitors. This is the 86th year and the theme will be “responsibility”. Pandal will be shorter but outsiders will be welcomed. Every precaution will be taken including the provision of masks and sanitization. The preparations have already begun and we yet hope to see the best.
Mohammad Ali Park
The puja had originally started at a fire station but with growing popularity and reputation, it was repositioned in the park where we all visit to view the mesmerizing sight of their pandals. But last year due to inevitable circumstances, the puja had to be shifted back to its original location and the park has been kept closed temporarily. Md. Ali Park is famous for its out-of-box theme, and since this was the 52nd year we had expected more. The pandal will be sculpted as a replica of the famous Murugan Temple of Kerala and the height of the deity will be not more than 8 ft. There will be fewer lights and low scale decorations.
Tridhara Sammilani, one of the biggest crowd-pullers in south Calcutta, will be celebrating their 74th year since they started their puja. Usually, the pandals are almost completed by this time, but this year the theme has not been declared yet. Their slogan says “Ei akale bodhan thak, utsab noy” (Let there be awakening, not celebration). They are willing to downsize the pandal as well as the deity and the puja will be streamed live on various social media sites in order to avoid crowding. The budget will be kept low. The remaining of the collected budget will be donated to the underprivileged people. Tridhara has always been on the advantage of having an open see-and-move pathway, which will be highly useful for this year as well.
Sreebhumi Sporting Club
Sreebhumi is a must-visit and sensation among the pandal hoppers in Kolkata. They are known for making replicas of royal palaces inspired by Bahubali, Padmavat, etc. This year the theme is- Kedarnath Temple. There will be no changes in the pre-made plans anticipating the current situation. But utmost precautions will be taken and guidelines will be followed.
Ekdalia Evergreen is also worth seeing pandal with no true themes but its spectacular light-work is the main attraction. It is famous for replicating temples from all over India. This is the 78th year but the celebration will be low key with an immensely low budget. Anyway, the height of the deity will remain as usual. Visitors will not be allowed to stay and watch but rather see and move. The interior and deity of the pandal will be conventionally decorated. All the cultural events that are held every year are canceled. The bhog distribution ceremony has also been eliminated from the schedule.
Jodhpur Park Sarbojanin
The commodious Jodhpur Park pandal is one of the biggest in South Kolkata. Jodhpur Park puja is based on the theme “Durga Rath” this year. The committee has decided to take Durga to her people rather than them visiting her in the pandal. The rath will either be a miniature or an extension of the pandal with a small replica of the actual idol. It will be a small tableau that will move around the city. Although we’ve got an idea of what it will look like, the majority of it will be a surprise.
Santosh Mitra Square
Santosh Mitra Square was initially formed in 1936 as “Sealdah Sarbojanin Durgotsav” and retitled in 1996. The following year, it rose to fame with a particularly innovative theme and has remained extremely popular ever since. It is impossible to think of Santosh Mitra Square decorations without gold or silver. It has repeatedly surprised its viewers every year with astonishing artworks like Golden Saree, Idol made of gold, Durga rath made with silver, and so on. But amid this pandemic, Durga Puja will surely be low key. In spite of that, the theme for 2020 will be Badrinath Temple. In order to avoid the worst pandemic situations and easy handling, there will be no surprises for this year. The size of the idol will be kept short and traditional.
So we clearly see that nothing can ever stop Bengalis from being Bengalis. Durga Puja will always bud in the worst of conditions and pave way to bloom in the hearts of its maniacs. Let’s together give a warm welcome to Maa Durga and pled for a better tomorrow.