stars stop at super six
Forty kids enjoyed a special Saptami as they put on judges’ hats to pick winners for TTIS Choto Chokhe Boro Pujo in association with Alchemist. A bus ride to six shortlisted pandals from a pool of 50, complete with antakshari, fresh Facebook updates and lots of bonding made for a memorable journey. Joining the fun were actress Gargi Roy Chowdhury and Manoj Tiwary. And, both travelled back in time with Metro.
BEST PUJA (winner)
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
A bus full of kiddie judges and a convoy carrying Gargi Roy Chowdhury and Manoj Tiwary pulled up in front of the Kalighat puja for the final Durga darshan of the day.
The 5B Nepal Bhattacharjee Street puja had chosen Pujor Swapno as its theme. The dream world created by artist Sushanta Pal bowled over the judges with its abstract art. “The entrance resembled a giant eye, which transported one to a world of dreams where nothing has a conventional structure. All the idols were made in such a way, with nets and colours, that it seemed nothing was clearly visible except the faces. It is like our dreams,” said Sandip Chakraborty, general secretary, puja committee. “Being the Best Puja in the innocent eyes of kids is the greatest honour that we could get after so much of hard work. I think we connected well with everyone, especially kids, since we created a world of dreams.”
Here, Ma Durga’s trident with which she killed Mahishasura went around in a circular motion in the air before piercing through the demon’s chest. Class VI student Abon Gooptu at La Martiniere for Boys saw a glimpse of James Cameron’s Avatar in the asura.
The puja that celebrated 75 years and has been a part of CCBP from Year One (2011), won over Manoj and Gargi too. “It’s all about dreams and very colourful,” said Manoj. Gargi felt she had landed in a Greek kingdom.
BEST PUJA (1st runner-up)
Hindusthan Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee
This puja on the south route scored with its recreation of an old temple, complete with around 30 pigeons trained for three months, real prop roots of banyan tree and snakeskin!
Themed on Mahalakshmir dalan jora/ baikritik rahasye mora, Hindu mythology was at the heart of this puja. “According to Chandi Path that we listen to during Mahalaya, the ancient goddess is Mahalakshmi with four hands. She had appeared in three avatars at different times — Mahakali to kill Madhu-Kaitabh, Ashtadashabhuja Mahalakshmi to kill Mahishasura and Mahasaraswati to kill Shumbha -Nishumbha. So, we gave our pandal the look of an ancient terracotta temple where idols of all three avatars of Mahalakshmi were being worshipped,” explained Sutapa Das, secretary, puja committee.
“I really liked it. I felt as if a whole temple has been lifted and placed here. It looked very realistic. The ambience was very good. This puja had a lot of sabekiana (traditional feel) and Bengali heritage. This was Ma Durga,” said Gargi. For Manoj, too, the realistic setting was a winner. “The smoke added to the feel,” he added.
BEST PUJA (2nd runner-up)
Ram Mohan Smriti Sangha
The theme of this 55-year-old puja was Tathastu. “We tried to give our pandal the look of a peeth (place of pilgrimage). At the entrance there was a Durga jantra, a reverse triangle with a hole through which parts of the goddess could be seen. The pandal looked like Durga’s right hand, the hand that blesses, a 12ft hand made of fibre and plaster of Paris,” explained Harsh Jaiswal, member, puja committee.
The idol depicted Ma Durga in her Adyashakti avatar with the trishul as her only weapon. The organisers also tried to keep it eco-friendly with “lead-free paint”, something the kids really liked. “The idol was beautiful and the idea original,” said Aatreyee Ghoshal, a Class VI student at South Point School.
Manoj, who is recuperating from a knee injury, was quite a sport as he swayed to the beats of dhaak. Balle balle style though! For Gargi, the puja came with a lot of “heart”. “I heard the kids have contributed a lot, which is great,” smiled the actress.
Alchemist Earth Award for the Greenest Puja
Maniktala Chaltabagan Lohapatty Durga Puja
This was CCBP 2013’s first stop for the day. The blend of mica and “mosquito net” made for an eye-catcher of a pandal. “Every year we try to do something innovative. This year we introduced mica art. It took four months to prepare the pandal. We won’t demolish this artwork. It will be used in various puja pandals over the next few years,” said Ashok Jaiswal, vice-president, puja committee.
The pandal was modelled on a half lotus and its exterior was decorated with intricate mica and “mosquito net” designs on aluminium grill. Inside the pandal, four large peacocks, pillars and reverse pyramids on the ceiling — all done with mosquito nets and mica — drew everyone’s attention.
The use of solar panels, the round-the-clock availability of water and fire-safety measures won them the coveted green points. They also had special arrangements for the senior citizens. “Lohapatty was the best green puja. It even had solar panels,” said Nistha Mitra, a Class VIII student at La Martiniere for Girls.
Manoj and Gargi were impressed by how well-organised it was. “That’s one of the most important things in a puja,” said Gargi, who also liked the idol and the decoration. “A lot of thought has gone into it. There is a lot of method. The lion was black, which was individualistic. The lotus decoration was great,” she said. Manoj liked the concept of the “mosquito net” used as a decorative. “It was something innovative that I saw for the first time,” he smiled.
This first-time entrant in Choto Chokhe Boro Pujo amazed with paper sculpture. Around “40-45 tonnes of newspaper” brought to life a fictitious cave temple that was divided into four parts. Statues of a dancing Nataraj at the entrance, sculptures of around 300 gods and goddesses in Part Two, a 40ft statue of Shiva and the god in his various avatars in the third half and “Durga Darshan” at the end made it quite an experience. The clay idol wore an ancient look. Ma Durga’s Mahishasur Mardini avatar with 13 asuras lying at her feet won over the judges. The beats of dhaak and the smell of dhoop-dhuno completed the darshan.
Overwhelmed by the ambience, Manni picked up a dhaak while Gargi and the other little judges matched steps. “So much effort… the Nataraj, the numerous incarnations of gods and goddesses and the idol was really nice. The light and shade enhanced the cave-like feel,” said Manoj.
For Gargi, the puja had a lot of “soul”. “You might feel why black for Durga? But they have tried to recreate the stone-carved effect. There is a feel-good factor. It was a green puja too because it wasn’t suffocating at all, thanks to all the paper art,” she smiled.
Most of the kids were hooked to the theme. “It was very well presented. It is about how Ma Durga prevents us from destroying nature. The idol depicts that she is slaying evil,” said Pritha Banerjee, a Class VIII student at Hariyana Vidya Mandir.
Bosepukur Sitala Mandir Durgotsab Committee
The theme of the Bosepukur puja pandal played with the legend of King Bali and Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu. “Nowadays kids are so absorbed in computers, cartoons and online games that they are hardly aware of mythological tales. And we chose the tale of King Bali as it has a moral lesson also for everyone,” said Kajal Sarkar, secretary, puja committee.
According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu, who came to earth in Vamana avatar, asked for a piece of land from King Bali. The proud Bali replied he could have as much land as he wanted. Vamana said he wanted as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The King agreed. With his first step, Bali covered the whole of earth and with the second he covered the sky. He then asked King Bali where he would put his third step. Bali realised that this was no ordinary man and he bowed before him with folded hands and asked him to place his last step on his head. Vamana placed his foot on Bali’s head, which pushed him underground. Bali’s chained hands at the entrance greeted the visitors.
The pandal took the shape of a globe with three kharams — one on the globe, one pointed towards sky and another on the ground — signifying Vamana’s three steps. The entire pandal was decorated with kharams of various sizes and names of all the incarnations of Vishnu.
The theme was a clincher for the kids. “Their concept was unique and the interiors were totally based on the theme,” said Ankita Poddar, a Class IX student at Loreto Day School, Dharamtala.
Gargi felt it appealed on aesthetic grounds. “I felt, oh no! they are going to immerse it!” she smiled.
Text: Ayan Paul, Saionee Chakraborty and Shweta Keshri
Pictures: B. Halder