The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theme for a puja prize dream

Biman Saha,
Lake Town.

The Pujas are an occasion to celebrate, to get together and make merry. There is nothing to worry about if the traditional element is absent or modified to give people something new. If people are attracted to a new theme, however gimmicky it may be, it should always be welcome. For example, the traditional daker shaaj is no longer attractive to all.

Mahasweta Saha,

Most puja committees compete with each other for prizes. Be it the idols, pandals or lighting, everywhere there is some new idea at work. With the passage of time, the traditional element of the Pujas is also fading out. Along with us, goddess Durga is also becoming modern.

P. Pramanik,
Santoshpur Avenue.

Poor knowledge of Sanskrit mantras chanted during puja by the priest allows gimmicky themes to overshadow the traditional elements. But where the priest is scholarly, devoted and performs the rituals with sincerity, whatever the theme is, the puja will hold its traditional ground.

Seraj Alam,

Every puja has its own tradition and way of celebration. But Durga puja today has lost its spirit. Too much commercialism has crept in. People are sometimes found indulging in loathsome behaviour like drinking and eve-teasing near pandals. So, in this context, we can say that gimmicks have overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas.

Tapash Chakraborty,

Themes are the order of the Puja days in Calcutta, where big money is spent to stay in competition for prizes. Spectators gather in the city to compare the artistic decorations and lighting of pandals, in a frame of mind totally bereft of devotion. This is terrible. Gimmicky themes must not be allowed to overshadow the traditional dhunuchi naach, the beat of the dhak and aarati, besides the spirit of love and friendship that prevails during the festive season.

Chandan Ray,

Tradition has been transformed by creative ideas in respect of pandals, lights and decoration. They can in no way be dismissed as gimmicks. A couple of years ago, no one could even have thought of images being built with waste materials. Who had heard of the artistes who have brought about the change with theme pujas' Had things stayed as they were, these artists would not have come into the limelight. There is no compulsion that tradition has to be maintained. Rather, it is a blessing that concepts have been replaced and people are enthusiastic about change. Who knows what will happen in future' May be pujas will become more classy and attractive.

Arunava Bose Chowdhury,

No one can deny that most pujas, especially those in urban and semi-urban areas, have become mechanical. They are marked by pomp and splendour with little care for rituals. While there exists an unhealthy competition among puja committees for gorgeous decorations, no sincere effort is being made to uphold the age-old traditions.

Subhobrata Basu,
Ballygunge Station Road.

Long gone are the days of the traditional puja and pandals. What we see now during the festive season are valiant attempts by organisers to outshine each other. And in this process, it is tradition that has been sacrificed at the altar of cheap gimmicks. Lighting arrangements depict major events of the year ó 9/11 and the like. Pujas are a time for fun and frolic. Canít we afford to forget these harsh realities even for these four days' The different awards ensure that we do not. When you have prizes for best pandals and best lighting arrangements then being in the news surely becomes of utmost importance to the organisers. But gimmicks or no gimmicks, we love our puja.

Amitava Mukherjee,

Gimmicky themes are meant to throw challenges to other puja organisers. But these themes also destroy the tradition of the Pujas. One thing can be said is that though today we have some attractive themes and pandals, we also miss our traditional elements.

Rounak Paul,

Durga puja has been reduced to a gimmick ever since it became an extravagant affair. In the past, relatives and friends from other states and countries would flock to the city to have a glimpse of the thakur. But now the flow has reversed as citizens feel the festival is too much of a hulla-baloo.

Parama Mazumdar,
Address not given.

Durga puja is not just a puja anymore. It has taken the status of a popular festival. Theme pujas are on the rise. This trend has sparked off competition among organisers to attract the crowds as well as the notice of award-givers. It is a platform to showcase artistic talent. But the unfortunate part is that this trend is overshadowing the traditional element of the Pujas. It is now all about hefty budgets and show of pomp. This glitz has blanked out the true essence and simple pleasure of the Pujas. The new trend is always welcome as it is like a breath of fresh air but we should definitely not ignore the traditional elements.

Sounak Chakraborty,

Theme pujas are a new trend in Calcutta. Puja organisers are bringing to life remote areas and their native art that we do not know about, be it customs of villages in Orissa or Rajasthan, or art and craft of Manipur or Kerala. But traditional pujas like those in Pathuriaghata Mallickbari, Sabarna Roychowdhury of Behala or Sovabazar Rajbari, have a different identity. They have age-old rituals and customs. We welcome new trends but old traditions should be retained side-by-side so that themes never overshadow the traditional element of the Pujas.

Prahlad agarwala,
Majdia, Nadia.

Yes. There is no denying that gimmicky themes have overshadowed the traditional element of the Pujas.

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