Rupam and Arpita at the True Spirit Model Puja and (below) Abir, Ushasie and Parno Mittra at a Hand in Hand puja last year
True Spirit Puja
CESC The Telegraph True Spirit Puja, presented in association with Vedic Realty and GD Hospital & Diabetes Institute, is not about enormous pandals, flashy decoration and oddball themes. It is about revelry with an eye on safety, security, civic consciousness and social commitment. The movement, which started in 2003 with 100 pujas, has grown over the years, with 280-odd pujas signing up for the True Spirit Puja banner this year.
“CESC has been involved with the movement since its inception. It is all about seeing that the true spirit of the festival is maintained and it is safe and happy for all. We want to encourage green initiatives even more,” said Aniruddha Basu, executive director, distribution, service, CESC.
The parameters on which the participants will be judged include safety measures like crowd management and traffic control, first-aid provisions, fire and power hazard precautions and efficiency in crisis management. The parameters of civic consciousness include efficiency in waste management, eco-friendliness and absence of noise pollution.
“The True Spirit Puja is a commendable movement as it aims at making the celebrations safe for one and all,” said Raj Modi, managing director, Vedic Realty.
Participants must also make their pujas comfortable for pandal-hoppers, providing basic amenities like drinking water, toilet facilities and wheelchairs for the elderly and people with disabilities.
“Making pujas safe and healthy for all is one of the primary motivations for us joining the True Spirit movement,” said A.K. Dutta of GD Hospital & Diabetes Institute.
“By making puja organisers chant the True Spirit mantra, the movement is increasing awareness about safety and security at pandals and strengthening the hand of Calcutta police. And it is the city that is benefiting in the process,” said Satyajit Banerjee, DC (sixth battalion), Calcutta police, at the TSP briefing on Thursday.
True Spirit Puja is not just about five days of revelry. It takes into account year-round commitment of the puja committees to bettering the lives of the underprivileged.
A team of judges will set out to mark the participants on October 19 and 20. A final team of celebrity judges will visit five shortlisted pujas on October 21 to decide on the Four Star and Five Star category pujas. The puja with the highest score will be accorded the Model Puja status.
Hand in Hand
If you want to enjoy Puja to the hilt without braving the madding crowds, gear up for four days of festive fervour at your home. From Behala to Birati, Southern Avenue to Salt Lake, Lewis Berger Presents The Telegraph Hand In Hand in association with Bajaj Almond Drops and New Ponds White Beauty will make Saptami to Dashami memorable in 100 housing complexes.
The Telegraph Hand In Hand, which started off with 15 apartments in 2003, now packs in something for every member of the household. Show off your culinary skills in the Recipe Contest or your special talent in 3 Minutes To Fame. Those with twinkle toes can go in for Dhunuchi Naach and those who can blow conch-shells, for Shankh Bajao. If Bollywood numbers are at the tip of your tongue, take part in for Antakshari or test your GK in Spot Quiz. Couples can test their compatibility in the Sriman Srimati contest while kids can take part in the Sit-and-Draw contest. Lighting as many candles as possible under a minute and Beautiful Face are the new contests added to the overflowing roster.
Festival of Joy
If Avishikta-II is planning to decorate its pandal with jute to ring in an eco-friendly puja, residents of Mangalam Park will dine together during the festival to bond better. Joining them in “meaningful celebrations” at Euroclean Vacuum Cleaner from Eureka Forbes presents The Telegraph Festival of Joy will be 48 other housing estates from across the city.
In the third edition of Festival of Joy, points will be awarded for civic consciousness, community participation and social commitment. First-aid corners, fire-safety measures, help desk, special arrangements for the elderly and people with disabilities and access to drinking water are some of the boxes the jury will tick while trying to identify the Model Apartment Puja, Five Star Apartment Pujas and Four Star Apartment Pujas.
Euroclean Vacuum Cleaner from Eureka Forbes Clean & Green Homes is also a part of the scheme. Six apartments will vie for the second edition of the prize, to be given to the greenest complex. The judges look out for plastic- and litter-free pujas. Marks will be given for innovative use of scrap in doing up the pandal. There will be surprise elements in a few of the complexes with special guests dropping in on Navami.
Choto Chokhe Boro Pujo
Fifty children, 40 pujas and nine awards over two days — it promises to be a Puja to remember for the young judges of Idea presents TTIS Choto Chokhe Boro Pujo, in association with GD Hospital & Diabetes Institute and the Alchemist Group. Come Sashthi and students of classes V to VIII from around 20 schools, including St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, South Point School, Julien Day School, Mahadevi Birla World Academy, Calcutta Boys’ School, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and South City International School, will go pandal-hopping and pick pujas they like the best.
“This has been our unique attempt to connect the children with our culture and tradition while keeping their interest alive,” said Sudhir Pradhan, COO (East), Idea Cellular.
Helping the children crack the winning code will be Topshe, aka Shaheb Bhattacherjee, and his father, former footballer Subrata Bhattacherjee, on Ashtami. The students and the celebrity judges will visit the shortlisted pujas and decide on the winners. Also part of the TTIS Choto Chokhe Boro Pujo team on Ashtami will be Malini Bhagat, the principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
Awards will be given to the best overall puja (one winner and two runners-up), best idea, best idol and green puja.
Ten green monitors from Earth Day Network, the green partner for the event, will be among the judges. “We want to inculcate in the children environment awareness, help them learn to love the environment and take care of it so that they grow up to be environmentally responsible,” said Karuna Singh, country director, Earth Day India. Neela Majumdar, project manager, Earth Day Network, said: “The children will be asked to look out for the use of biodegradable material, fire-retardant tarpaulin, noiseless generators, an eco-friendly theme and, most importantly, a green project for the community.”
Before the Devi, comes the diva! The Sajna aa bhi jaa girl, Shibani Kashyap, will take over the Kund area at City Centre Salt Lake on October 19 (Panchami) for the Seagram’s Royal Stag Mega Music Pujo Rock, in association with t2. Starting 7pm, the “open to all” mall concert will see her performing some of her hits like Ba khuda, Nazakat, Zinda hoon main and Ho gayi hai mohabbat.
“This is the 10th edition of Royal Stag Pujo Rock. This is also the first time Shibani will be performing in an outdoor area in Calcutta and we’re expecting a footfall of around 5,000!” said Joydeep Basuroy of Seagram’s. Five lucky readers can win photographs with Shibani Kashyap by SMSing RS<YOUR NAME, Pujo Rock> to 9230029000.
Catch the Flight
Buckle up for a bird’s-eye view of Puja, courtesy Royal Stag Catch the Flight in association with t2. Fifty people, including five lucky readers of The Telegraph, will get the opportunity to view the decked out city from a plane flying above the city from 9am on Sashthi. Text FLT <Name> <Locations> to 56569 to try and be on board.
If you are set to turn heads and steal hearts this festive season, here’s your chance to get famous as well. Vaseline Pujo Ready, in association with Anandabazar Patrika, is looking for four women who are walking that extra mile to get ready for Puja. Registration started on October 10 at the Vaseline Pujo Ready zone at Forum and a day later, 10 lucky contestants got beauty and skincare tips from Priyanka of Chirodini… Tumi Je Amar fame. City Centre II hosted the Vaseline Pujo Ready zone on October 12 and 13, where actress Parno Mittra mentored the young girls. If you’ve missed out on these two, register yourself at City Centre Salt Lake on October 14-15 or Avani Riverside Mall on October 16-17. Payel Sarkar and June will visit the Pujo Ready zones there. Four overall winners will be featured in Anandabazar Patrika and go on a dinner date with the four Tollywood stars.
Friends FM and McDowell’s No.1 will host celebrities and musicians at four locations from Sashthi to Navami for performances, gifts and loads of gup-shup from 6pm to 8pm. On Sashthi, Pota and Sidhu of Cactus will talk rock at Naba Durga, Garia. On Saptami, Swastika Mukherjee, Abir Chatterjee and Srijit Mukherji will hold forth on matters of love at Singhee Park. Ashtami will tickle your funny bone as Kanchan Mallick and Kanchana Moitra bring the house down at Bagbazar Sarbojanin, and on Navami, Sandhani Club of Beleghata will host a musical evening with Samantak Sinha and Paroma Banerji.
But what’s Puja without dhaak? Aircel Friends FM Limitless Pujo has invited 100 paras to send the maximum number of text messages [SMS <para code>to 9804998049] and get their locality into the top 10. The winning paras will enjoy evening visits by Tolly stars like Tota Roy Chowdhury, Soumili Biswas, Hiraan, Rimjhim, Abir Chatterjee, Koneenica Banerjee, Shaheb Chatterjee and Swastika Mukherjee and 101 dhaakis on any one of the four festive days, between 5.30pm and 8.30pm. Voting lines are open till October 17.
Then there’s Friends FM Pujor Hoichoi, presented by Muthoot Group, in association with Bose, where paras and residential complexes will vie for top honours. For Muthoot Group presents Friends FM Shera Pratima, actress Aparajita Ghosh Das will crown the best three idols on Ashtami, after a rigorous judging session by art college students across 100 pandals from Panchami. The Muthoot Group presents Friends FM Shera Para, in association with Bose, will crown the best Puja locality, to be given by actress Sonali Chowdhury on Ashtami.
The Puja party doesn’t end there. An AC Volvo bus will take 15 lucky listeners of Friends FM along with a friend each on a Puja parikrama from 11am to 7.30pm on Saptami. And if not a parikrama, try your luck for the Bisarjan Darshan on Dashami, where a barge will take lucky winners to seven ghats to bid the goddess and her family adieu, 5.30pm onwards.