The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Shoppers’ day out for Diwali

While the Diwali decibel level has surely gone down thanks to the crackdown on big-bang firecrackers, the purse strings at shopping outlets have been loosened this year to usher in the festival of lights. With the stock market witnessing a bull run, the ripple effect has sent the retail registers ringing.

“Yes, sales are up at least 15 per cent at the Pantaloons outlets on Camac Street and in Gariahat as well as in Big Bazaar during the Dussehra to Diwali period compared to last year,” confirms R.S. Rekhi, head, operations (east), Pantoon Retail (India) Ltd.

While Big Bazaar has seen good movement of utensils and household stuff, both apparel and non-apparel items have been selling well at the Pantaloons stores.

Landmark, the anchor in Emami Market, which has always been a happy haunt for Diwali shoppers, has also recorded a 10 per cent sales mark-up in the lead-up to the illumination carnival. While gel candles and designer diyas of different shapes and colours have been moving well as usual, the hit has been a range of statuettes of gods and goddesses in Italian porcelain, priced at Rs 1,500 a pair.

“There has been a marked shift in gifting ideas this Diwali. Instead of the traditional baskets of dry fruits and sweets, people are gifting items of home décor to near and dear ones. We had introduced a series of low-priced gift sets at Rs 99 each and we are sold out,” says Gautam Jatia, CEO, Landmark. From expensive writing equipment to fancy flasks, photo frames to glass tumblers, things are moving quick and true.

MusicWorld, the city’s leading music retail outlet on Park Street, has also recorded a 10 per cent rise in sales across all genres over last year during the Kali puja-Diwali week, according to regional manager Lalita Sinha.

With Dhanteras never as big as this before, the jewellers are also basking in the glow. “Although gold remains the overwhelming favourite, diamond and platinum are becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation, since the design element has been reduced to great abstraction, with simple and minimal being the fashion flavour of the season,” observes Brinda Ganguly Sirkar of The Gold Factory.

White goods and home appliances are also on a festive high. “The sales this season have been very good,” says Jiten Chawla of Cams Corner, on Camac Street. “The spending has definitely exceeded what we saw last year, mainly because prices are down. There were lots of good bargains for consumers this time. The most popular items were appliances like microwaves and air-conditioners.” The Homemakers, the home appliances store at Emami Market, has also seen “a six to seven-fold jump” in sales during this period.

Buy big, buy bright is the theme for the spending dream this Diwali.

Kali in 51 forms

This Kali puja, in north Calcutta, is unique in more ways than one. In 51 ways, actually. Not satisfied with the worship of just one idol of the Devi, the North Suburban Club, in Baguiati, has put up 51 protimas in the pandal, each about five to six feet in height.

It is based on the mythological tale of Sati’s death of shame after her father’s insult of her husband, Shiva’s taandav with his dead wife’s body and Vishnu’s chakra chopping the body into 51 pieces. Wherever a piece of Sati’s chopped body fell, a temple was built in her honour.

At the club’s puja, on a playing field in Deshbandhunagar, the different avatars of Kali depicted in each of the temples, from Tarapeeth to Kalighat and Mansarovar to Kamakhya, are portrayed in all the goddess’ glory. “We have tried to make each protima true to form. Everyone’s welcome to have a look or to worship,” says Vijay Saha of the club.

Mother movies

One little woman, doing her bit to save the world, touched many lives, poor and not-so-poor. For some of them, the way to celebrate Mother Teresa’s life and times was through the medium of movies. To commemorate the event of her beatification at the Vatican last Sunday, some of these films will be on view at the Mother Teresa International Film Festival, from November 1 to 4, at New Empire and Lighthouse cinema halls.

The 10 screenings include features and documentaries, long and short, made by filmmakers from Lebanon and the US, Japan and Spain, India and Canada. The purpose is to portray the work of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

The line-up includes Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor, directed by Kevin Conner in 1997, starring Geraldine Chaplin and made with the help of Dominique Lapierre, and Korak Dey’s My Karma, starring Moon Moon Sen and Arjun Chakraborty, released this year. Cristobal Guierrero’s animation film The Fifth Word and Tony Nahnouh’s Calcutta: A New Evangelization, will premiere at the festival. For more, log in to

Bard’s disciple

This young lady is a woman of many talents, from singing and dancing to acting and writing. And it doesn’t stop there for the amateur actress, who one day hopes to make it big. She has enough time to devote to the various NGOs she works with. However, Srovonti Bosu’s one true passion is Rabindranath Tagore — his poems, plays, novels and, above all, his music.

The 24-year-old has been learning Rabindrasangeet from age 10, and has sung solo and in groups, in Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Allahabad and Patna. The credit list of this trainer at Jadavpur University Music Club includes performances on television channels, albums and the Dakshinee Puroskar Award last year for ‘most talented Rabindrasangeet singer’.

A memorable moment was working with Sandip Ray in Tagore’s opera Mayar Khela. The member of Dhaibat, “an action and research centre for Tagore’s cultural thoughts”, has participated in several plays and dance dramas, putting her kathak training to good use. “I just wish I had more time,” Srovonti sighs.

Acting in telefilms is another “serious pastime” for the ex-student of JU, who did her MA specialisation in modern Indian history and life and thought of 19th century Bengal, and won the best all-round graduate and post-graduate awards. The two small screen forays so far — both by Saibal Mitra for a private channel — are Banga Sanghar, based on an Ashapurna Devi story, and the soon-to-be broadcast Morning Work.

Fluent in five languages, Srovonti has also published articles in magazines, on topics ranging wide from the bard of Bengal to female rock singers. The former research fellow at Rammohun Roy Memorial Museum worked on an INTACH project for the publication of a book on Calcutta’s heritage buildings. “But writing is just a hobby. Performing is what I really like,” she adds.

Currently, Srovonti is employed with Sutra, a city-based NGO bringing about awareness of Indian textile heritage, and was tied up with the conference and exhibition on 2,000 years of textile trade between India and the world, this month. But she’s never too busy to take time out to help others, be it volunteering with Karma Kutir, an NGO for young women, or Sishu Tirtha, an organisation for orphans. “It’s all in a day’s work,” she smiles.

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