Sealdah Railway Athletic Club
The rush reason this year is a 120-ft-high pandal modelled on the Mahabalipuram temple. Also worth noticing are the ornaments on the idols, designed by Chandan Mazumdar of Ranikuthi. The club is celebrating its 59th puja this year. According to an organiser, the crowd built up right from 6 pm on Sashthi and there was no let-up till late into a rain-splattered Saptami.
The 60-ft-high volcano is generating such footfall that the policeman on duty on Sashthi night reportedly had to call for reinforcements. “The fibreglass and plaster of Paris pandal was packed by 11 pm,” an organiser said. Like an unexpected surge in Puja 2005, this year, too, is seeing more crowd crush than what the worshippers of the nine-ft idol with steel finish had steeled themselves for.
The Swaminarayan Temple at College Square is turning pandal-hoppers into devotees. The lighting, by Chandernagore artisans in and around the waterbody, showcases the ordeal of Prince at the bottom of the 60-ft well in Kurukshetra, the infamous head butt by Zidane during the World Cup final and the Jagannath rathyatra. This is one puja which has retained its following over the years.
Badamtala Ashar Sangha
The 10-headed Ravana at the entrance is drawing children, as are the dolls of fibreglass, straw, wood and strings. “People are lingering in front of the gate for Ravana. We got a Saptami-like crowd on Panchami night itself. The numbers were swelling even on Saptami morning,” said an organiser of the puja near Kalighat Metro station.
The pandal, modelled on a mansion of a zamindar, harks back to a Calcutta illuminated by gaslight. The ekchala idol inside is befitting the theme of the puja in its 72nd edition. “We get a surge from Kalighat Metro and Tollygunge Circular Rail stations. This year, even Panchami night was crowded,” an organiser said.