| Actress Manisha Koirala lights a Kali puja candle on Friday. Picture by Aranya Sen
Candles, diyas and crackers have always been integral to Diwali celebrations. There’s an addition to that list — Bollywood stars. Adding a sparkle are actors and singers flagging off the Festival of Lights.
The Bollywood caravan rolled into town on a Friday dominated by Don and Devi. The star trek stretched from Barasat to Ballygunge, Madhyamgram to Maniktala, with the biggest name being Manisha Koirala.
“I’m here to inaugurate some pujas. I also hope to go around town and drop in at some pandals,” smiled Manisha, divulging her Calcutta itinerary.
Her colleagues — Jaya Prada, Chunky Pandey, Sanjay Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and singers Anuradha Paudwal and Amit Kumar — had a busy day and night, hopping from one pandal to another.
“Every year, celebrities and actors are flown in from Mumbai for our Kali puja. You cannot ignore star value; it raises crowd participation and adds to the fame of the puja,” said former Trinamul Congress MLA Paresh Pal from his Maniktala pandal.
Though the stars visited only a handful of the 2,677 Kali puja pandals in town, the men and women from Mumbai did set the tone for a cracking Kali puja-Diwali.
Code of conduct
Before you get cracking on Saturday, do check the rulebook. Noise has no place in the Festival of Lights any more. So, police have decided to be strict about keeping crackers below the 90-decibel mark.
To beat Diwali’s decibel devil, police have issued a circular to housing estates found responsible for flouting noise norms last year — the loudest Diwali in the past few years.
“We have told all housing estates that banned crackers cannot be used on the premises. We will hold the building secretary responsible if the guideline is not followed,” warned Pradip Chatterjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).
Crackers crossing the 90-decibel mark at five metres from the blast point are banned.
Loudspeakers must stay silent from 10 pm to 6 am and blare below the 60-decibel mark by day.
Off-shops will shut at 3 pm and bars must serve the last drink by 4 pm on Saturday.
Finally the immersion timeline: October 22, 23 and 24.
Kali puja is all about scaling new heights. Though Naihati, in North 24-Parganas, remains the mother of all towering figures, Salt Lake provides the city’s answer to the height fight, with a 21-ft goddess at Balaka club.
There’s a numbers game on at Azadgarh, near Tollygunge, with the dark goddess in her 51 variants of Ekanno Kali, while the Chetla pujas continue their tradition of presenting the Mother in her various avatars as described in the scriptures.
And if Durga puja pandals have a hundred themes, the Bowbazar Friend’s Union Kali puja is bedecked with 800 clay dolls, while a Tollygunge club club promises El Dorado.
Eye on the sky
Don’t let a shower take you by surprise on Saturday. The Met office warns of possible “rain or thundershower” in some areas. “Thursday’s cyclonic circulation has shifted a little towards Jharkhand and there is heavy incursion of moisture from the Bay. So, we can’t rule out rain on Saturday,” said G.C. Debnath, director of the weather section at meteorological centre in Alipore.