Monday, October 31, 2016


'Tridhara' - 
Huge heads of  buffaloes , scores of plaques with African motifs decorate the huge pandal.

After spending a quiet Durga Puja in Helsinki during 2015 , I was looking forward to the  grand show of Durga Puja in Kolkata in 2016. Puja pandal decoration was completed by Triteeya/Chaturthi and pandal-hopping started with big enthusiasm. We went out before sun-rise on the mornings of Panchami and Shashthi too. On mid-day of  Saptami, we covered the local pandals of Parnasree. That was the time when Anjali was being offered to Devi almost in all the pandals we covered.On the mornings of Nabami and Ekadashi, we went out again with our cameras. Very rewarding experience indeed.

'66 Pally' -
Devi's idol,the pandal and the decoration around remind the viewer 
to the charm of old Kolkata !

TV shows, however, were mostly disappointing. These shows covered mostly the crowd thronging the pandals and boasting members of the organisers' committees. But, the cameras hardly covered the decoration, the lighting or the idols . Probably, the organisers do not want the TV viewers see the many details on TV screen. They are happy only when more and more people queue up  through       l-o-n-g corridors shaped by  thousands of bamboo poles leading the 'Entry' gates.If  viewers  get satisfying details in TV , why will they come to the pandals in hordes ?

Deshapriya Park  - 
Much-hyped ' Durga with Thousand hands'  &
a glimpse of the idol that was 'worshiped' according to rituals through an opening on the high pedestal of the former.

We went pandal-hopping either early morning or mid-morning,  time slots not-so-popular . Yet, peaceful viewing and photography were quite difficult . Besides the crowd, we faced problem of lighting too. For example at Tridhara, lighting of the alcove housing Devi's idol   was switched off in the early morning. As a result, hardly any details were visible. It necessitated a lot of efforts  to extract presentable photographs from the raw shots.

 'Badamtala Ashadh Sangh' -
Excellent decoration with broken bricks and terra cotta images . Disappointing layout since the Devi's idol is placed at a distance , chairs etc were scattered in front of Her pedestal , creating an unkempt look .  

 'Badamtala Ashadh Sangh' -
Impact/appeal of the huge inverted lotus marred  by 
the thick cable running across.

In fact, some of the  pandals we visited were not designed to cater to serious viewers. It seems to thrive on ' More are the nos of viewers, happier are the  sponsors' principle. I found  excellent 'art'work marred by bad lighting , un-organised  placement of furniture , large distance between viewer's space and where the idols are positioned. In several cases, tip of Devi's crowns  were not visible, the sides of 'Ganesha' and 'Kartick' poorly illuminated.

'Ballygunge Cultural' -
The 'Asura'  here looks strong -  most of Kolkata's idol-makers seems to  have no idea  what the appearance of 'Mahishasura' should be. 
He threw the gods out of heaven & 
it took the  power and weapons of ten of them to defeat him.

But, these aberrations are 0.1% of the whole show. The artistic value  of  the installations and  efforts were simply astounding.

'Parnasree Club' -
After 'Astami' Puja.