Festive frames to woo tourists from UK

Sindoorkhela at the Ekdalia Evergreen puja captured in Manjit Singh Hoonjan's lens. The photograph is part of the Bengal's Durga exhibition

Calcutta: Dhunuchi naach, bhashan in the Hooghly, sandesh for Bijoyar mishtimukh and more - UK residents are now eager to soak in the traditions of Durga Puja after a virtual experience of the festival through a photography exhibition in London.

Sixteen frames depicting the various aspects of Durga Puja are on show at the Totally Thames Festival 2018 in National Theatre, South Bank. A collaboration between the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation and British Council India, the Bengal's Durga exhibition - that will be on all September - is meant to attract cultural tourists to the state.

Several visitors to the exhibition have already started making ticket and visa-related enquiries, lured by Manjit Singh Hoonjan's photographs.

"The exhibition aggressively promotes Durga Puja as a public art and installation festival. It has generated a lot of interest among British parliamentarians, visitors as well as the Indian diaspora," Atri Bhattacharya, the principal secretary of tourism, said from England on Saturday. He is part of a four-member team, including minister of state for sports and youth affairs Laxmi Ratan Shukla and British Council-East director Debanjan Chakrabarti, that is touring the UK to promote the exhibition and explore opportunities for art programmes, partnerships and cultural tourism.

"We have held meetings all over Britain to explore present and future opportunities," said Chakrabarti, on his way from Hay-on-Wye to London via Cardiff on Saturday.

Each of the frames at the exhibition captures the essence of Bengal's biggest carnival in all its "colours and complexities" - from the making of idols and the run-up to the festival to significant rituals and decorations."The pictures were taken last Puja, when I worked for over 12 hours across the city. I even visited Taki and several barir pujos," said Hoonjan of Calcutta Photo Tours.

The Bengal's Durga exhibition has been curated by Ali Pretty of Kinetika and Kamalika Bose.


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