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Corporates open gates to welcome devotees
- Industry leaders grab attention with advertisements; vendors make a quick buck

Patna, Oct. 3: Big corporate houses and small local businesses have found a smart way to cash in on the festive spirit. Many of them have erected welcome gates along the routes to the big and famous Pujas in the state capital to attract the attention of the visitors.

Sources said this form of publicity is mutually beneficial for both the businessmen and the Puja committees. While the traders benefit from the publicity, the committees earn a fair amount through sponsorship.

Sunil Jha, treasurer, Shri Krishna Puri Durga Puja Samiti, said: “More than 10 lakh people cross Boring Road (the venue of this Puja) during the four days of the festival. Just imagine what publicity these corporate houses get.”

Telecom service providers and manufacturers of electronic goods are the most common players in this field. Sources said they pay Puja committees between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 to put up one such gate. Many Pujas — at Dakbungalow roundabout, SK Puri, SK Nagar, Kankerbagh, Rajendra Nagar, Patliputra Colony and others — have more than five gates each.

Visitors to the pandals, however, are not too happy with these gates.

Danapur resident Dasrath Ram, who had gone pandal-hopping with his family today, said: “These wooden gates often create problems for visitors. They take up a lot of space and make it difficult for us to enter or exit a pandal.”

Gates are not the only means of advertisement though. Hoardings and banners also jostle for space at various Pujas. As these are more affordable — advertisers pay between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 for these — smaller players such as private tuitions, showrooms and shops have also put up their display boards.

Organisers, however, claim that they do not invite such sponsorships, though the aid is always welcome.

“These corporate houses are some of the biggest financers of Puja committees. But we never approach corporate houses to erect these welcome gates,” said Sanjeev Prasad Toni, president, Navyuvak Sangha Shri Durga Puja Samiti, on Dakbungalow Road.

While industry leaders have gone for large-scale publicity, vendors have relied more on taking the goods to the revellers. Many of them have set up stalls of toys, electronic gadgets, clothes and snacks at the pandals. Mahadev Sao, owner of a toy stall at Dakbungalow roundabout, said: “I had set up a stall at the same place last year as well. Business is good as toys are always in demand.”

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