|The Puja pandal in Rampurhat on Wednesday. Picture by Snehamoy Chakraborty
Rampurhat, Oct. 2: Puja organisers in a Birbhum town have pruned their budget to save money for a hearse.
The Purba Nischintapur Puja Committee in Rampurhat had raised Rs 5.5 lakh through subscriptions and advertisements. But the committee decided to spend Rs 3 lakh from their collections to buy a vehicle that would be modified into a hearse.
A second-hand vehicle was bought for Rs 3.75 lakh and was sent to a local garage to be transformed into a hearse.
Asked why they decided on a hearse, members of the committee said the only hearse at the sub-divisional office was not available at night in the absence of a driver, which made taking bodies to the nearest crematorium in Tarapith, 7km away, “extremely difficult”.
“Something needed to be done. So, we decided at a meeting last month to cut down our budget to Rs 1.75 lakh and buy a hearse with the remaining amount,” said Sovan Chatterjee, the secretary of the Puja committee.
But pruning the Puja budget meant cutting down on the frills.
“We had planned to bring in electricians from Chandernagore to illuminate the pandal and its surroundings. That would have cost us around Rs 2 lakh. But we stuck to a local electrician who has charged us Rs 40,000. Instead of buying one from Kumartuli, we are getting our idol done this time by an artisan here. The pandal this time is also traditional. We had initially wanted it to be modelled on a temple from south India,” said Kaushik Aich, one of the organisers.
Kaushik recounted how the absence of a hearse at night had prompted relatives of schoolteacher to hire a vehicle for almost double the rate to take his body to the crematorium in Tarapith.
Residents said the committee’s gesture was “encouraging”.