The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The novel 9

Centuries ago, Hindu texts on iconography had stipulated wood, metal and clay as materials appropriate for embodying the Devi. But the clay-and-hay equation has gone haywire with the crowd-pulling game taking centrestage. Thankfully, after the celluloid Seventies and screeching Eighties when heroines became the countenance and the blaring decibels of Hindi film songs the ambience, it is now the pandals which more often than not provide the happy experimenting ground for the award-hungry organiser. Like the previous years, Puja 2004 also has its share of the odd lending itself to the aesthetic. Listed below is a fingercount of nine destinations that promise to pull the pandal-hop numbers by virtue of their unique bizarre proposition (UBP).

CA Block Sarbojanin Durgotsab

Location: CA Block, Salt Lake

Budget: Rs 6 lakh

UBP: The Anaconda that has its fangs out for one of the three asuras

The reason why: The film Anaconda 2 that did raging business at the box-office. If the dinosaur replaced the lion in the year of the Jurassic Park, the Titanic pandal saw fortunes rise in James Cameron's Oscar-winning year, why not let loose Hollywood's latest (hissing) import on the crowd'

The look: The temple will be modelled on the Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It will stand at a height of 60 ft with the famous all-seeing eyes keeping watch from the top. Three asuras will be giving the Devi a fight, while the 10-armed goddess, modelled by Santosh Pal, has two lions and the Anaconda on her side. (Picture 1)

Kishore Bahini Athletic Club

Location: Motilal Nehru Road

Budget: Rs 4.5 lakh

UBP: Lozenges, of all shapes and sizes, within and without wrappers

The reason why: A blend of the bitter and the sweet. The theme is illiteracy with the panels bringing out the contrast in the Puja plans of a literate well-to-do family and an illiterate one on the streets. The use of lozenges aims to bring back to view lost unbranded products ' mouri lozenge, round peppermints and fish-shaped sugarballs ' that have receded from the city market.

The look: The lozenges are being pasted by Pradip Mondal's team on shapes in thermocol meant for the walls and the chalchitra. With 100 kg of round sugarballs going to fill the gaps in between patterns in other lozenges and about 1.5 lakh branded toffees under wraps adding colour, the total sucrose count is anybody's guess. But they will be off-limits for both insect and man. While the chemicals will keep off the flies, it will be barricades and volunteer vigil that will keep away the itching fingers. But kids crying out loud for a candy will be treated to some from the stocks, the organisers promise. (Picture 2)

Putiary Club Sarbojanin Durgotsab

Location: Paschim Putiary

Budget: Rs 4.5 lakh

UBP: Marbles, of five colours

The reason why: To bring back in focus the street-corner passion of a game of marbles

The look: About 18 lakh marbles have been bought from Howrah to decorate the panels, the chalchitra and the chandelier. Lifesize models in clay will depict streetside situations surrounding the quaint game. (Picture 3)

Rammohan Roy Road Durga Puja

Location: Opposite Rammohun Mancha, near Sukeas Street

Budget: Rs 7 lakh

UBP: Wood pencils, of six colours

The reason why: To underline the necessity of education

The look: Ten lakh pencils are being cut to varying sizes or sliced to decorate paintings on wood. Luminaries in various fields of learning, Rammohun Roy to Gobor Goho to Uday Shankar and Satyajit Ray, as well as the evolution of scripts, from cavewall to computers, will be on view. Pencils are also being used on the chandelier and the chalchitra, under Prakash Bera's direction.

21 Pally Sarbojanin Durgotsab

Location: Bondel Road

Budget: Rs 5 lakh

UBP: Sago (sabu)

The reason why: Novelty value

The look: Five quintals of sago will stay off the frying pan and water to be pasted on carton paper and thermocol. The walls of Swapan Das' 48-ft pandal will take a few pages off the Ramayana, from Sitaharan to Akal Bodhon. The odour of insect-repellent powder will keep flies off the Devi's anchal, ornaments and the designs on her drape.

22 Pally Sarbojanin Durgotsab

Location: Hazra

Budget: Rs 3 lakh

UBP: Coal

The reason why: To protest child labour

The look: There will be 52 panels curved out of coal depicting the darkness of childhood robbed of the right to play. One-and-a-half tonnes of coal have already been used up by Michael Bose's team. Coal blocks and coal dust will also feature on the idols.

41 Pally Sarbojanin Durgotsab

Location: Haridebpur

Budget: Rs 2 lakh

UBP: Wood apple

The reason why: To generate income for villagers by introducing multifarious uses ' the entails scooped out for achar, the painted shell to be sold later as ashtrays and wall partitions.

The look: Based on the Dharmaraj temples of Burdwan and Bankura, the structure, a Kalad creation, is supported by 16 pillars on separate themes in wood engravings. The wood apples, bleached and painted by patuas, hang from the ceiling adorned with jhuris from villages of Bihar. (Picture 5)

69 Pally Topsia Gate Durgotsab

Location: Topsia, near Vishwakarma Building

Budget: Rs 8 lakh

UBP: Cashewnuts

The reason why: Novelty value

The look: Sixty sacks of cashewnuts have come from Orissa. They were soaked, dried, peeled and dipped in varnish and copper sulphate. Pencilled outlines of patterns are being filled with cashewnut peels outside the pandal and nuts inside. All to keep the crows away and the bill pocket-friendly. (Picture 4)

Vivekananda Park Athletic Club

Location: Haridebpur

Budget: Rs 2.5 lakh

UBP: Silk

The reason why: To revive India's fortunes in silk trade

The look: Four types of silk cocoons, adding up to three lakh, have been brought from Murshidabad. The cocoons are being cut and the strips pasted on the pulp. The pulp idols jut out in relief from a base of paper pulp. The white cocoons make the backdrop while the images use the bright yellow shells. The cocoons are also to be used for panels tracing the silk route ' from silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves to the weaving of silk thread. The boys of the club are doing it all.

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