Friday, October 21, 2011


 Two Pujas which must  be chronicled in history  of  
 Bengal's   installation art  
                               & a few others                                 

I have noted one phenomenon in blogspot - I get regular hits on my very 1st blog on DURGA PUJA, which was published years ago while the latest blog on the same subject , incorporating 2011 Puja photos attract far less nos of hits !
Aisa kiun ? Aisa kiun ?? Aisa kiun ???

Behala Aikya Sammilani

Nevertheless, I continue my work of sharing photos from my HDD  with my friends . My wife and I enjoy visiting Puja pandals selectively - had we been younger, we could have moved around in the night. Here we have been around locally - only at Parnasree and around. Clicking photos of decorated pandals in the evenings is a pleasure - more so for us, because, we have fewer choices as we do not venture outside our area in the throbbing crowd of pandal-hoppers.

Earlier - during 1980s - my wife and I used to out with my mother and my sons during the evening of 'Sasthi' and never placed any problem in parking our car or accessing a pandal.This year, I found no place to park my car near the College Street pandal @ 7am on the morning of Dashami !

While sociologists will work on evaluating how 'Sarbajanin Puja' in Calcutta - and in districts too - changed over the decades promoting 'art of installation', specially with advent of participation of sponsors/advertisers, the revelers are never short of discovering wonders in every 'par' - locality. The very famous Puja at Naktala this year has taken the art of installation to a new height!

The pandal has been planned to look like a bird. The curvatures are inspired by a sickle . Tons of high quality timber has been used to build this 'bird' !

Lot of thinking, imagination has gone in creating the idol of the goddess. She is in  battle-mode - her being reminded me of Jiten Pal's creation of 1960s for 23Palli Sarbajanin. Several photos are required to convey the impression which has been built with metal and mehagani timber.

Durga rides the  'Mahishasura' - his posture shows he is about to be defeated. Durga holds his  left horn with her left hand and raises the sword which is also the trident  in her right. 

Durga in her fiercest mood.Her large eyes are angry. Her hair flying.
Are her two shoulders  at slightly different levels like a famous creation of a famous artist ?

The other Puja that requires mention was at FD-Block.THe idol is 52' tall - would not go for immersion.Reportedly, an urchin used to weep every year when Durga's idol sed to be taken for immersion. This year, the Puja Committee decided to go for a kind of near-permanent idol. Very proportionate is the creation - but Mintoo Pal has to explain my son's query - Why Laksmi & Saraswati are taller than Kartik & Ganesh ??

 This is the tallest Durga in 2011. There must be very interesting stories on how the concept was born & subsequently brought into reality ! If chronicles of these installations were written,
they would have interesting readings for us !

Demons, Lion and the Trident!

Pandal  created as 'Cave temple'. Idol  is a fusion of traditional & modern styles.
Kashi Bose Lane ( North Calcutta)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011



 Thousand eyes behold her as Devi Durga vanquishes Mahishasura , descends on the Earth with her left foot resting on the head of the Buffalo and  right foot  touching the soul of  mankind - floating horizontal in the cosmic void  . Hymns in Sanskrit add to the solemnity of this 'presentation' by Sanatan Dinda.
Nalin Sarkar Street,2011

Entrance to NSS pandal from Grey street.'Maner Manush' on a boat - coloured blue. Blue colour has been used on the nets which stretch upto the rooves of the neighbouring buildings - 
when lit up in the night, the boat-like structure  and the bluish glow of the nets 
create an impression of walking within a water-body.
Abstract designs and a large eye stare down  on the boat-like walk-way to the pandal.

Tara - the most revered among the Bouddha goddesses - has reportedly sprung from the tear of 'Avlokiteswar' - the most important among the Bouddha gods. She is the goddess of compassion  - and - also consort of 'Avlokiteswar'. Lotus blossom  and eyes are symbols of Tara. 
Sanatan Dinda has used the both in his NSS and Chakraberia idols this year ( 2011).

Since we returned to Calcutta from our decade long stay in Pune and Durgapur, Ruby and I made a practice of  visiting  Puja pandals selected , based on reports in Newspapers & TV. Our 1st Puja in Calcutta was in 2004. We were at Hatibagan to attend a 'barir' Puja  - a domestic Puja - when we reached the pandal @ Nalin Sarkar St while strolling around and clicking. Sanatan Dinda, seven years younger and much more accessible , was standing outside the pandal. That puja - the pandal and the idol - struck a chord in my heart. We had a chat  with Dinda , clicked a photo of him and left.I  decided to keep a track of Santan Dinda's work in coming years. Next time I saw his Durga idol - again @ Nalin Sarkar Street - was in 2007.
 Dinda made this idol for NSS in 2004. The pandal, shaped like a temple was designed and executed by him. Durga's idol has a bronze-like finish and very prominent & big eyes. Miniaturisation of  her 'children', lion and Mahisasura  - which later became his trademark - can be noticed in this 2004 installation too.

This is Dinda's Durga for NSS puja in 2007. Her face is nearly conventional, slightly heavy in the chin. Like in 2004, her skin colour is golden. Not 'ataseebarnabhyang' !

We returned to Nalin Sarkar Street this year ( 2011)  just to enjoy the presentation of Dinda. We were very much impressed by Chakraberia Sarbajanin  - the idol by Sanatan Dinda and the pandal by Shibshankar Das. From photos in the newspapers, it was obvious that NSS idol  and the pandal - both executed by Dinda will be worth a visit. And... it was.

At NSS, Dinda's 'theme' was 'Maner Manush' - a coinage from the title of a successful Bengali movie.
'Maner Manush' , which translated literally, means 'The Person in our Heart'. But, mysticism wraps these two simple words -   the meaning is 'understood' only by a 'sadhak' - someone who knows the specified process of meditation.In this installation at NSS , Dinda has succeeded in creating a mystique environment,  used various symbols and an idol which is the result of seamless , but, complex fusion of Hindu and Bouddha Tantrk iconography !

Dinda has borrowed from Bouddha Tantrk iconography in Chakraberia Sarbajanin too. But,  Dinda's  Durga idol here is 'brushed' with less complexity.   Shibshankar has built a pandal in a restrained manner . He did not attempt to dazzle the viewer with lots and lots of artwork and details.

 Devi Durga rises from 'pralay jaladhi'- cataclysmic ocean, standing on the 'jiban taranee' - boat or ark of life . She defeats 'Madhu-Kaitava'-like demons . ''Maner Manush' - soul of mankind - lies stretched in  front of Devi with a lotus in his folded hands. 
Lotus adorns Durga's being, her crown .
Chakraberia Sarbajanin, 2011.

'Maner manush' - The person residing in our heart - lies prostrate on a contraption protruding at right angles to the boat while offering lotus as 'anjali' to Durga.

Pandal of Chakraberia Sarbajanin. Shibaprasad created a wonderful environment using 'shephsl/shiuli' flowers and lotus. He used exhaust fans to create the 'shephsl/shiuli' flowers !
( Photo : courtesy - Ruby Chatterji)

I have no intention of  comparing  CS with NSS -2011. Such a comparison will no way increase the enjoyment & appreciation of these two very fine Puja pandals and idols. I have posted several photographs of 2011 Puja  - please do enjoy ! I have also tried to write a few words on evolution of Dinda's style  - what I termed as 'fusion' earlier in this blog with photos from my HDD and internet.

 Sanatan Dinda, visibly younger, in  2004 ,was photographed interacting with viewers  (Ruby ) in front of NSS pandal . It was noon of Saptami puja.