Puja preparations in front of the idol outside Salt Lake School in CA Block. (Saradindu Chaudhury)
For the first time since its foundation in 1978, Salt Lake (English Medium) School organised Saraswati puja last Friday. The initiative was taken by the school’s executive council.
In its 34 years of existence, the school has never hosted a puja. “We have always upheld a secular face. Moreover, as Saraswati puja is celebrated in every house both teachers and students would be busy at home. It is good if they have started a puja in school now,” said Ashok Kumar Chakraborty, former superintendent of school, who retired a year ago. “There is no bar in the school constitution on holding a puja,” clarified T.P. Ghosh, who was secretary of the school’s executive council for 13 years till his retirement.
But no notice was put up about the puja. “Some executive committee members wanted to perform Saraswati puja. Nobody objected so it was passed unanimously at the general body meeting. But we did not get any notice informing us about the puja,” said a senior teacher on condition of anonymity.
The pandal was erected outside the school premises, on the ground opposite the school gate. Vice-president of executive council, councillor Anindya Chatterjee, who lives in BA Block, said the puja was held outside the school premises so as not to impede the ongoing Indian School Certificate examination. “Though there is no examination on the day of the puja, the dismantling of the pandal tomorrow might have disturbed the examinees,” said Chatterjee on Friday.
Debapratim Dutta of Class VII skipped puja at home to be in school. “I wanted to offer anjali here. My friends too have come so after anjali, we can all play cricket,” he smiled.
Binoy Biswas, a physics teacher, had been taken aback on learning that the school did not host Saraswati puja when he joined in 2001. “I always thought that students here were being deprived of the fun. I am glad that our school has started a puja at last,” he smiled while distributing food coupons among students.
Indrani Samaddar of Class IX had come down with her mother to offer anjali. “I wanted to be a part of the momentous occasion. Some of my friends would come too,” smiled the resident of Shyambazar.
Anuttam Ghosh, a teenager of CA Block, had come over with his grandfather, attracted by the sound on the loudspeaker. “The music they are playing is cool,” he said of the Rabindrasangeet that was playing, adding that he was happy to have a puja being held near his house.
But the pandal’s location, outside the school’s boundary walls, raised eyebrows. “Perhaps Ma Saraswati is weak in English so she did not get a seat inside,” his grandfather Surendra Ghosh joked.
Chatterjee promises to hold the puja inside the school from next year.