The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja pandals recover part of costs for organisers

Create it, celebrate it, demolish it and drown it. That has been the trend for Puja organisers erecting elaborate edifices for the Devi till now. But this time, the trend has shifted from extravagance to the entrepreneurial.

Take New Alipore Suruchi Sangha. The organisers here had got village artisans from an ashram in Raghurajpur, Orissa, to make various artefacts with raw silk, wood, paper pulp and pat paintings to adorn a pandal that cost Rs 3 lakh. After the festive days, the pandal area was turned into an impromptu bazaar to sell the artefacts. The three-day sale fetched the organisers a neat Rs 4.5 lakh.

“The Pipli lamp-shades used in the pandals fetched close to Rs 2 lakh,” said Suruchi Sangha president Arup Biswas. Suruchi Sangha’s experimental venture comes as a big boost for students of Gurukul Ashram, in Orissa, who, under the guidance of teacher Sarat Pradhan, had decorated the pandals with their Pipli works.

The Bakulbagan Sarbojanin puja had 14 Durga figurines lining the path to the pandal. Three of them have already been sold, while one in kantha stitch has found a bidder. “While the cost price for the entire set was around Rs 70,000, the individual figurines are fetching an average of Rs 4,000,” said organising committee secretary Ramkumar Dey. The terra cotta lampshades are being sold for Rs 25-30 apiece.

The Selimpur Palli pandal decorations have set off for Chandernagore where they will deck up a Jagaddhatri puja. Once the Madhubani canvases and Bastar artefacts are back, they will go under the hammer, said committee treasurer Indranil Roychowdhury.

Animesh Chakraborty, assistant secretary of Barisha Srishti Saradotsab, is happy to recover the returns. “If my decorator’s bill for the pandal runs up to Rs 2.5 lakh and if I can recover Rs 50,000, I will regard that as a profit,” he reasons, welcoming this new trend. And the big Barisha Srishti sale of Madhubani art is still very much on.

The Dilwara temple recreated by Jodhpur Park Sarbojanin has been booked for preservation at Palitana, in Gujarat. A temple there will be inaugurated in January, housing models of temples from across the country.

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