The True Spirit of festivity finds expression in a slew of environment-friendly measures at pandals across this north Calcutta neighbourhood. From installing LED lamps powered by solar energy to keeping the use of plastic to the minimum, most of them seem to have spared no effort to stand out as much for their sense of responsibility as for their aesthetics.
Manicktalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga Puja Committee, a True Spirit veteran, is among the standout pujas on this route. The soaring structure with colourful spikes has been created with colourful putty on iron mesh. Solar power has been used wherever possible and the medical facilities and fire-safety measures pay more than just lip service to the True Spirit charter. The puja committee is also involved in social work, a sure way to impress the judges.
A short distance away is Ram Mohan Smriti Sangha, where the artwork on the walls of the entrance is eye-catching. But there’s hardly any facility at the pandal worth holding up as a True Spirit example.
In the lane adjacent to this is the Tekiapara Sarbojanin Durgatsab, Manicktala, which has ecological and social awareness as its theme but falls short on safety parameters.
Lalabagan Yubak Brinda (Nabankur Sangha) is a treat for the senses and a True Spirit judge’s delight in many ways. The pandal’s theme is autumn and most of the artwork, including the wall hangings and decorations, have been created with brushes that can be recycled. The facilities are adequate.
Haritaki Bagan Sarbojanin Durgotsab has Madhubani art on the walls that beautifully depict the life of Swami Vivekananda. The facilities for visitors are basic.
| Manicktalla Chaltabagan Lohapatty
The Sammilita Lalabagan Sarbojanin Durgautsav pandal seems inspired by an old village temple. Around 100 pots with faces painted on them add an element of fun to the eco-friendly décor. The organisers have arranged for fire alarms as part of the safety arrangements.
Hatibagan Nabinpally is a small but well-planned puja with swadeshi as its theme. A real spinning wheel for khadi makes the ambience look natural. Solar panels have been used to power some of the lights.
A potential crowd-puller is the Belgachia Sadharan Durgotsav. The venue, a park, has given the organisers the luxury of space to create a boat and other elements around it to represent the theme: “Save water, save life”. Ironically, waste management appeared poor with the park already littered.
1 Pally Nikashipara Sarbajanin Durgotsab Samity and 14’S Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav have nothing much to offer in terms of either themes or the True Spirit of celebration.
Social awareness is the common message in all pujas in this area. Global warming, deforestation, child labour… most pujas here highlight some evil.
Ajeya Sanghati has taken fire safety seriously, perhaps more so because the pandal is made of tree bark. On display is a board instructing visitors how to use fire extinguishers and a detailed fire drill in case of an emergency. The puja also shows good electricity management and the organisers engage in social work all through the year.
Vivekananda Park Athletic Club falls short because the electrical wiring is poor.
The idol at Vivekananda Sporting Club, Haridevpur, is completely eco-friendly. The paint has been made from the gum of tamarind seeds. The puja also showed excellent electricity management and special provisions for people with disabilities. The organisers also engage in social work round the year. The puja uses paintings to depict stories of Parvati in Kailash.
The theme at Haridevpur Adarsha Samity is deforestation, with life-like birds perched on partially hacked treetops. The puja, in its 44th year, has the necessary fire safety measures and special arrangements for senior citizens.
Haridevpur Nabin Sathi Sarbojanin Durgotsab depicts the ills of female foeticide and Pally Unnayan Samity has “return to childhood” as its theme. The restrooms at the latter, however, are best avoided.
The organisers of Putiary Sarbojanin Durgotsab, through the theme “the inner eye”, want to raise awareness about eye donation. Over 15 lakh glass bangles have been used to decorate the pandal.
Naskar Para Pally Unnayan Samity is spreading awareness about global warming and Saratpally Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee shows the ills of child labour.
Text by Roshni Ali & Shrestha Saha
Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta & Bhubaneswarananda Halder