Millennium Post

Idols leave carnival spectators bedazzled

Thousands show up at Durga Puja Carnival; 70 community Puja organisers showcase their idols

Kolkata: Diverse themes, ranging from Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster film Jurassic Park to cancer awareness or the daily struggle of potters, beats of dhaks, songs invoking the divine goddess and colourful folk performances marked the third edition of the Durga Puja Carnival here on Tuesday.

A sea of people including a huge number of foreigners descended at Red Road to witness the extravaganza that saw over 70 community Puja organisers parading with the idols.

The Puja committees showcased their innovative themes through tableaux, including a miniature pandal where they hosted the idol for the past few days and also performed for a few minutes before immersion in river Hooghly at Babu Ghat and a few other ghats in Central and North Kolkata. Apart from Kolkata's award-winning idols, those from Bidhannagar and Howrah also took part in the mega event. All the community Pujas selected for the roadshow were winners of "Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman" in various categories.

The rally began with Sree Bhumi Sporting Club, a major crowd-puller in the city's eastern fringes, which won the award of 'Serar sera' (Best of the Best). The puja themed on 'Padmaavat' showcased a stunning replica of the Chittor palace where Rana Ratan Singh lived with his beautiful wife Padmavati but was ultimately defeated by Alauddin Khilji. Decked up in Rajasthani attire, around 100 women relived the times of Rajput queen through their traditional 'ghoomer' dance.

The performance of Suruchi Sangha deserved special mention with 26 women disciples from ISKCON, clad in white and red sarees based from all over the globe, dancing to the theme song Jayo Maa Jayo Durga, penned by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The Baranagar Netaji Colony that had its theme — Kolkata in London — a dream cherished by the Chief Minister had a performance from Dona Ganguly's Diksha Manjari.

The winner of "Shera mandap" — Md Ali Park — that also depicted Chittorgarh palace hosted a Rajasthani dance performance by women from that state.

The venue served as the best possible combination of a mix of contemporary theme and tradition. Common people and foreign delegates present were mesmerized by the idols of Ekdalia Evergreen, College Square, Shimla Byayam Samity to name a few which have been hosting traditional pujas for decades.

There were performances by folk artistes, bauls and percussionists. The giant screens flashed clear pictures of the idols, specifically made to cater to the enthusiasts seated far away.

A number of Puja organisers utilised the Red Road platform to spread important social messages through different art forms. Amidst the massive Durga idols on tableaus, members of all age groups including children presented a themed dance performance, highlighting Bengal's rich culture and communal harmony.

As the procession progressed, organisers attired in ethnic wear danced to the tune of dhaks and enacted the rituals of the five-day Durga Puja, including the 'Sindoor Khela' — a custom where women smear vermillion on each other.

Several celebrities from the Bengali film fraternity were also seen on the main podium where Banerjee stood and greeted all the Puja organisers with a smile. During the procession, they also joined a cultural performance. Many foreign diplomats and consul general of a number of countries were present at the event.

The Carnival went global as it was aired for the first time on National Geographic Channel.

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