The Telegraph
Saturday , October 13 , 2012
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Canopy key to Puja safety

Move over elaborate, eye-catching pandals. Safety is the buzzword this festive season, with at least three Durga Puja organisers in Jamshedpur opting for simple but reliable canopies for better crowd control.

As bonus, these canopy pandals are cheaper and also offer ample space for the indispensable Puja adda.

The Jamshedpur Durga Puja Kendriya Samiti, which is the apex body of organisers in the steel city, had had always stressed on fire safety measures, particularly a wide entrance to pandals. And last year, the Northern Town Durga Puja Committee in CH Area showed the way with its spacious canopy, which is made of fireproof aluminium pipes and a special non-inflammable tarpaulin sheet.

Fortunately, this one good thing has found taker two many. Besides CH Area this year, Tarun Sangha — arguably the best Durga Puja in Sonari — and another organiser in Sakchi have chosen safety over splendour.

Last month, Sree Bala Ganapati Vilas, the organiser of the famous Ganesh Puja in Kadma, had also opted for these special pandals.

Proloy Kumar Biswas, a member of the 39-year-old Tarun Sangha, said canopy pandals had several advantages over traditional ones. “They take less time to make, are fire-safe, ensure effective crowd control even if the footfall is heavy on the three main days of Puja — Saptami, Ashtami and Navami — and do not burn a bigger hole in the pocket like traditional or theme pandals,” he said.

Biswas conceded that CH Area was a trendsetter in the matter. “After all, safety is what matters most. People will be able to see the pratima from far and there will be no jostling for space, which is often the reason behind stampede-like situations,” he added.

Speaking on reliability, Concern India Show Private Limited — the builder of these Durga Puja canopy pandals — also organises the city’s annual trade fair Canvas India, which is currently underway at Gopal Maidan.

Jyoti Pandey, the director of Concern Show India, said fire-resistant SRF tarpaulins were used in these structures, which are a hit at many trade fairs. “Normally, Puja pandals are made of inflammable materials such as bamboo, fabric and ropes. But we use aluminium and steel for the scaffolding instead of bamboo. They are not easily gutted and can be constructed within four days instead of months that are spent behind traditional pandals,” Pandey said.

The best blessing perhaps is that canopy pandals are cost-effective too.

“Though the cost depends on the size of a pandal, it does not exceed Rs 4 lakh, whereas theme pandals are built for anything between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15 lakh. In additional, the canopies are not suffocating. There is enough room for all. And, last year we noticed that pandal-hoppers too like the concept,” the official added.

When the pandal is a crude canopy, what are Puja organisers banking on to pull the crowds?

Daaker pratima, says Tarun Sangha. “Our idol is our USP. Artisans from Krishnanar in Nadia district of Bengal will make the pratima worth more than a glimpse. Besides the traditional daaker shaaj, the goddess will wield ashtadhatu weapons,” said B. Dey, the secretary of Tarun Sangha.

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