The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Festive frills over fervour

Basudeb Bhattacharya,
Salt Lake.

Puja has become a gimmicky affair and has completely lost its religious significance. The para committees try to add modern connotations to the Pujas by wasting huge amounts of money in a meaningless show of wealth in the name of displaying artistic talent in pandal decorations.

Binit Kumar Jha,
Jawaharlal Nehru Road.

A pandal made of crackers or an idol representing Bharat mata are the gimmicks used by puja organisers these days. By illustrating a global event in pandals, we can attract people from other cultures and countries to see our traditional craftsmanship. Through all the gimmicky themes, our traditional rituals shine even more brightly.

Neha Almal,

No. Graceful dhunuchi dancers moving to the mesmerising beat of the dhak, awestruck children gazing at the giant chandelier and the vibrant spirit of pandal-hoppers which seem to electrify the atmosphere are what add to the essence of the Pujas. This can never be marred by any gimmicky theme.

Zaki Mubarki,
Madan Street.

The Pujas stand for the end of evil. This element will not be overshadowed by gimmicky themes. Through this festival, the people of Bengal spread the message of love, fun and friendship. This cannot be overshadowed by any gimmick.

Joydeep Chatterjee,
Address not given.

Of course not. Yes, we take recourse to gimmicky themes due to changing tastes, but we never bypass the traditional element of the Pujas. Modern pujas have moved away from ancient pujas, but the purpose and process of puja today is still the same as in the past.

Sayan Banerjee,

Gimmicky themes have not overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas. Tradition, I believe, does not merely mean remaining within our boundaries but to go beyond. Theme pujas have done just that. They have brought art and culture of not only other states but also of other countries to our city. Therefore theme pujas have enriched the festival.

Aakash K. Misra,

Gimmicky pujas, such as those using biscuits or CDs in decorating pandals and idols, have taken the sheen out of the traditional element. These days the Pujas have become a platform for competition and ostentation. They are a chaotic consumer fair where companies participate for their advertisement, each vying for public attention.

Sananda Sen,
New Alipore.

The use of gimmicky themes has made the Pujas more attractive than ever before. The crowds that visit the pandals come at the pull of the beautiful architecture of the pandals based on a particular theme. Gimmicky themes are now common in city pandals, taking competition to new heights. But the sad thing is this has overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas.

Barsha Chabaria,
Rabindra Nagar.

It is unfortunate that the spirit that once used to fill every heart during the Pujas is disappearing. Now it has became only a time to rest and enjoy. Moreover, the creation of pandals on a theme has made the Pujas an issue of competition rather than worship. The traditional spirit or the enthusiasm of offering anjali to the goddess is gradually evaporating among youngsters today. The tradition of the Pujas needs to be rejuvenated.

Lalita Agarwal,

Gimmicky themes have, to a considerable extent, overshadowed the traditional elements of the Pujas. Today, Durga puja is a mega cultural event. It is more of a carnival than a religious festival. With so many awards to vie for, the Pujas are getting bigger and more opulent with every passing year. Theme-based pandals with grand decorations and lighting have taken precedence over the traditional elements. Most puja organisers pull out all the stops to provide entertainment to the pandal-hoppers. Devotional fervour has been replaced by a carnival frenzy that sweeps the city off its feet during the four days of the Pujas.

Jayanta Datta,

No, gimmicky themes have not overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas. Now the Pujas have turned out to be a prize-oriented industry. Naturally healthy competition has surfaced among the puja committees. The artists think all year about a puja theme. This time puppet dance, struggle against Western culture and brickwork which were showcased in various pandals cannot be termed as gimmicks. With the passage of time, the competition has increased and new concepts have come up. I feel, theme-based pujas should be taken seriously because people want them.

Indranil Sengupta,
Salt Lake.

Yes, to a large extent. Where is the ambience and devotion that once used to prevail' Today, Durga puja is a competition of lights and decorations. It is really sad that we have turned the worship of Goddess Durga into an industry and it is no longer a festival of good prevailing over evil but a show of power and wealth.

Tanuka Bhadra,

Yes, the taste of our society, especially that of the young ones, has changed. Nowadays show is more important than the real thing and all puja committees want to attract the crowds. That is the reason why gimmicky themes have overshadowed the traditional element.

T.R. Anand,
Budge Budge.

No. Gimmicky themes have never overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas. They stay alive on their own merit and they do not depend on anything else.

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