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Since 1st March, 1999
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A toast to spirit and camaraderie
Actress Nelanjana Bhowmick lights the inaugrual lamp at Peerless Nagar in Panihati on Tuesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Maniktala Chaltabagan (Lohapatty). Picture by Pabitra Das

Two concepts, one new and the other bigger and better, promise to make this a Durga puja with a difference

IT’s mahasashthi, and Durga puja 2003 is upon us. This year, a new concept has been introduced, keeping in mind all things that are supposed to count in a celebration of this magnitude. The CESC The Telegraph True Spirit Puja, supported by People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC), has seen 79 puja committees enrol for this unique assessment, which prioritises safety, not big budgets, sensitivity, not sensation.

The honour roll will be announced on Ashtami evening. This will include a True Spirit Model Puja, followed by five, four, three and two-star pujas. The chosen committees are to present their plans for a social project, against which they will receive grants between Rs 2,500 and Rs 25,000 for the execution of the project. The True Spirit Model Puja is eligible for up to Rs 50,000.

The judges, including representatives from The Telegraph, CESC, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and PUBLIC, will choose the most commendable efforts by examining a number of criteria, mainly in relation to safety, security, public facilities and restoration plans.

The entries for this year are —

South: Sahid Nagar Sarbojanin Durga Utsav, Trikon Park Sarbojanin Durga Utsav Committee, Sharodiya Sammilani, Shibmandir Sarbojanin Durga Utsav Committee, Jagaran Club, Bosepukur Talbagan Sarbojanin, Juba Maitry, Padmapukur Barowari Samity, Bhowanipore Durgotsav Committee, Harish Park Durgotsav Committee, Mudiali Club Durga Puja, Hindustan Park Sarbojanin Durga Utsav Committee, Bhowanipore Kacharipara Sarbojanin, Kalighat Milan Sangha, Suruchi Sangha, Badamtala Ashar Sangha, Babubagan Sarbojanin, Ballygunge Cultural Association, Ekdalia Evergreen Club, Jodhpur Park, Singhi Park Sarbojanin, Prasar Naboday Sangha, Rajdanga Tribarna Sangha, Sree Sangha, Students’ Club, 22 Palli Sharad Utsav, Tangra Sarbojanin Durgotsav, Oshimi (Women’s Welfare Organisation), Garia Baisnabghata Durgotsav Samity, 66 Pally Sarbojanin Durga Utsav Committee, Gopalnagar Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee and Maddox Square.

South-Behala: Barisha Srishti, Gangarampur Ekta Sangha, Bosepara Sarbojanin Durgotsav, Nandana Yuba Sangha, Udayan Pally Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee, Behala Trishakti Sangha, Yubak Brinda, Paschim Barisha, Barisha Ckta Sangha, Behala Shakti Sangha, Adarsha Pally Sarbojanin, Barisha Netaji Sangha, Barisha Sahajatri, Barisha Tapoban and Behala Club.

North: Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee, Ajeya Sanghati, Rabindra Karim Sarbojanin, Maniktala Chaltabagan (Lohapatty), Rammohan Roy Road Durgotsav Committee, Brindaban Matri Mandir, BRS 10 Sarbojanin Durgotsav, Kankurgachhi Youngster, Sinthee Youth Athlete Club, Beadon Street Sarbojanin Durgotsav, Sreeti Agrami Sangha, 41 Pally Club, Children’s Park Youth Forum, Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja Committee, Dakshindari Youth Forum, Abasik Brinda, Darpanarayan Tagore Street, Maniktala Chaltabagan ISD Committee, Mitali (Kankurgachhi), Bagbazar Sarbojanin and Sreebhumi Sporting Club.

Dum Dum East: 4 Tank Jubak Brinda, Ultadanga Pallysree, Bharat Chakra Puja Committee, Nabamilan, Lake Town Adhibashibrinda, Dum Dum Park Sarbojanin Durga Utsav, Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha, Children’s Park Sarbojanin Durgotsav, Basak Bagan Adhibashi Brinda, Ichhapur Sivaji Sangha and Shibpur Sashthitala Barowari.

All these pujas will be visited by an assessment panel before the final announcement. Being the first year, many of the criteria have been relaxed. But some things, including adherence to electricity norms, first-aid and fire-fighting preparedness are some of the essential yardsticks.

Watch this space for updates…

All for one

Remember what it used be like at the para pujas' No elaborate pandals or themes, just simple devotion to the Devi through prayer and plain good fun with family and friends. That is what The Telegraph ING Vyasa Hand-in-Hand community puja programme, in association with Sony Entertainment Television, is all about — promoting the Pujas in housing complexes through community camaraderie.

The list of community pujas geographically encompasses Calcutta, from north to south, east to west. In the south, there’s Golf Green Phase I and Golf Green Phase III, IV, VII, along with Golf Garden Natun Pally on Prince Ghulam Md Shah Road. There’s Regent Estate, ODRC Rental in Behala, Swaranika at Shakuntala Park, Sikhar Bindu in Brahmapur, Green View on Southern Avenue and Bank Garden in Bansdroni.

In the north of the city, there’s Prasad Nagar on BT Road, Peerless Nagar in Panihati and Vinayak on KC Ghosh Road, Malancha in Baranagar, Motijhil Housing in Dum Dum, Anandam on Mall Road and CIT Singhibagan in Madan Chatterjee Lane.

In Salt Lake, there’s Karunamoyee G Block and Anushakti Abasan in Bidhannagar, as well as Karunamoyee A, B, C and D, Purbachal Sarbojanin and Labony.

Anupama and Gitanjali, as well as Minakshi and Dakshinayan, are on VIP Road. In Patuli, there’s Happy Nook and Abhudaya, along with Purbayan on Purbachal Main Road, Udayan in Survey Park and BP Township in Baishnabghata.

Up to 30 from last year’s 15, the residential complexes are all in a mood of celebration through some friendly competition. There are six contests that the complexes will hold over six days, with some beginning on Panchami and others continuing till Dashami. Sit-and-draw is just for the kids, and will be held primarily during the day. Sera Uttor, on the other hand, is only for the ladies. This event involves some tricky questions that don’t have any right answers, just good answers.

However, conch-blowing and diya-lighting, traditionally both female bastions, is open to anyone who can blow the longest and light the maximum number of diyas in the minimum amount of time. The spot quiz is open to all who would like to test their knowledge of the city and the Pujas, and Antakshari is for those who know songs at their fingertips. Not being able to hold a tune is no bar, although it is a perfect opportunity to show off singing skills.

Although the fun is in taking part and not winning, those who do manage to make a mark on the judges, themselves residents of the respective complexes, will be given prizes by Nestle for their efforts. For those families who have been at the forefront with wholehearted and enthusiastic participation in the programmes, there will be a Family of the Puja award. And for that one special person who knows it all and is omnipresent, there’s the Personality of the Puja to say thank you.

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