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Hunt for true festive feel

- 70 first-timers in 280 pujas

A downpour. Waterlogged streets. Traffic snarls. Nothing could come in the way of puja organisers who made their way to Spring Club on Thursday evening to be inducted into a movement that has played a big hand in changing the way Durga Puja is celebrated in Calcutta.

With the rite of initiation attended by about 70 first-time puja representatives, CESC The Telegraph True Spirit Puja — partnered by Calcutta Municipal Corporation and West Bengal Fire Services, and with Vedic Realty and GD Hospital & Diabetes Institute as associate sponsors — stepped into its 10th year of being a guiding force behind the city’s biggest community festival donning a more visitor-friendly and socially-consciousness face.

A presentation took the audience through a check list that encapsulates the True Spirit Puja (TSP) way that will be followed by 280 pujas this year. Safety measures, civic consciousness and social commitment are its three basic parameters. While control of crowd and traffic, first-aid preparedness and efficiency of crisis management form the core of the first parameter, the second requires eco-friendly measures, waste management and adherence to sound control norms. The third involves facilities that make pandal-hopping a more comfortable experience.

“All you got to do is ensure that your enjoyment does not become the cause of someone else’s suffering. Share that joy with others in every way you can,” said Subrata Auddy, senior manager, customer relations, CESC. The power utility, which will appoint a relationship manager for each puja, lauded organisers for making 2011 a fire-free Puja and hoped for a repeat.

Supriya Chandra, officer on special duty, CMC, highlighted the need to protect nature. “We get requests to trim trees from puja organisers. But remember preservation of greenery will fetch bonus marks in the TSP judge’s book.”

Satyajit Banerjee, deputy commissioner, sixth battalion, Calcutta police, not only prescribed measures but took one step further by distributing a compilation of safety norms and court judgments regarding idol and pandal sizes that organisers need to follow, as well as a list of helplines to ensure a safe Puja.

Ashish Dutta of Shyambazar Uttar Prantik Club stayed back to seek clarifications. “We are a small puja. It is beyond our means to compete for the best idol or the best pandal awards. But clean roads, safety measures and the right spirit are things we can provide. That is why we are here,” he said.

A booty of Rs 5 lakh awaits organisers presenting Calcuttans with the safest, cleanest and most caring pujas.