By Anurag Dey, Kolkata, Oct 7 IANS | 1 year ago

Durga Puja, Bengal's largest socio-religious carnival, has transcended beyond fervour, food and fashion. The festival has become an outlet for hundreds of puja organisers to add a meaningful dimension to the festivity via themes to spread social awareness.


Using their ingenuity and creativity, organisers of both big and small community Durga pujas have added on to the age-old 'good over evil' message that goes with the story of the goddess.

In sync with times - dominated by rising incidents of crimes against women - canopies have come up with innovative themes that leave an imprint on visitors.

From celebrating women empowerment to educating the young generation about the significance of environment conservation, there's something for everyone.

With their pandal a replica of a giant liquor bottle, the Arjunpur Amra Sabai Club in the city's northern fringes wants to convey the ill effects of drinking liquor.

Portraying intoxication as responsible for rise in crime especially against women, paintings depicting rapes, molestation and other atrocities have been made on hundreds of empty wine bottles.

"Leaving behind the intoxicating beauty of nature, youths today are more allured towards drinking. Liquor is perhaps the biggest reason behind attacks on women. So are portraying the ill-effects of drinking," says Somnath Mukhejee, the brain behind the idea.

In the backdrop of a spate of sexual assault on women, the puja at the Salt Lake FD Block depicts the historical prevalence of atrocities on women, which is eventually eliminated by goddess Durga.

"Seemingly, India is on the way to becoming a rape capital of the world. Our puja theme focusses on destroying the rapists, in the same manner as Maa Durga kills Mahishasura and brings an end to evil," said P. Sengupta, an organiser.

The Chakraberia Sarbojanin Durgotsab is celebrating "Naari Shakti" or woman power and is giving a single message: Every woman has the power and inner strength but she requires empowerment to fight against evil.

The five-day carnival begins Thursday.

Indian toon phenomenon Chota Bheem and his entire gang would descend at the Dakshindari Youth Forum canopy in North Kolkata, teaching children the significance of environment conservation.

The canopy walls are adorned with pictorial series using the characters of the popular cartoon show.

"The young generation must be made aware of the threats of global warming, and who better than Chota Bheem to do so?" said an organiser.

Puja revellers are in for a surprise. A giant coal mine has sprung up right in the city. The Kasba Shakti Sangha pandal replicates a coal mine giving the visitors a glimpse of the life inside.

"Most of us have a curiosity about coal mines. Our endeavour is to quench that curiosity. The pandal inside is a miniature coal mine giving a glimpse of how coal is excavated, the tough life of a miner and of course the importance of the fuel," said Shanta Mukherjee, of the organisers.

Visitors would wear a miner's helmet and get trolley rides showing them how coal is excavated. Goddess Durga along with her four children would be seen emerging from a mound of coal.

(Anurag Dey can be contacted at anurag.d@ians.in)

(Posted on 07-10-2013)