Innovation in times of financial crisis — this is a theme that seems common to the Durga Puja preparations across the Capital.
As the puja committees blame the economic constraints, they are also making the most of it with innovative themes such as ecology, rural life, Bengali icons and cuisine.
At the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja, one of Delhi's oldest pujas where the festivities will enter the 103rd year, the colour green and Bengali tradition are touchstones for the rites of invocation.
‘Every year, we allow non-profit groups to collect flowers used in the rituals to extract eco-friendly colours. This year too, many groups are keen to harvest used flowers,’ said Samarendra Bose.
Even the idol is eco-friendly, with the ek chala [single frame] idol sculpted in chalk to help it easily dissolve in water during immersion. The idol has been made by Biswajit Pal, an artisan from Calcutta. The pandal or marquee has a rustic flavour reminiscent of the idyllic life of Bengal’s lush countryside. The spotlight, however, is on food. ‘The bhog is important. We feed at least 3,000 people every year,’ he said.
Like Kashmere Gate, the emerging theme of this year’s Durga Puja in different parts of the Capital appears to be food.
On Sunday, there was a four-hour Delhi Food Walk tour that took food lovers through Chittaranjan Park to taste kathi rolls, phuchka, jhaal-moori, mutton ghugni and fish cutlets and catch a glimpse of the dhunuchi naach, the arti (invocation) dance before the idols to the beat of the dhaks.
At the K-Block puja, the scaling down of ostentation will be compensated by nine items on the bhog menu.
The theme of the B-Block puja is the 150th birth anniversary of seer-philosopher Swami Vivekananda. The marquee resembles the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari and the interiors echo the Belur Math. There are also portraits of Vivekananda and extracts from his address at a convention of religions in Chicago in 1897.
The Navapalli Puja Samiti in Pocket 40 depicts how the households of landlords in rural Bengal celebrate the festival in thakur dalan — the pillared courtyard outlying private shrines.
The Puja committee in Durgotsav, Greater Kailash-II has adopted the girl child as its theme all over the pandal. Maha Kumari — the figure of a schoolgirl standing over on a lion and carrying a trident and a disc — is at the entrance of pandal that has a village mud hut facade and have walls on which children will be allowed to paint. The high point is serving of bhog, served by the women of the puja committee. [IANS]