Puja and paribesh (environment) emerged as perfect partners this Durga Puja with a specially designed tableaux set up near popular pandals to showcase green concerns, including climate change, and possible solutions drawing large crowds.
Kolkata, according to several studies, is one of the most climatically vulnerable global cities and its residents, along with government agencies, need to be aware and active to counter the threat — this is the message that city-based nonprofit Environment Governed Integrated Organisation (EnGIO), supported by Green Tech; Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA); Exide and The Plurals, attempted to spread among Durga Puja revellers. The initiative was partnered by My Kolkata.
Enviro-tainment at focus
Suhasini Sengupta, who participated in the tableau show at Behala while pandal-hopping with friends and family, found the experience educational
EnGIO has been taking consistent initiatives to spread environmental awareness and action during Durga Puja festivities since 2007.
“As climate change is now considered one of the biggest threats, we decided to showcase climatic agendas as well what average city residents can do to minimise climatic threat and adapt better to the changing time. All this was done with the help of a beautifully designed and decorated tableau,” said Sujata Basu, a senior official of EnGIO.
“We are trying to showcase the key aspects of the city's environment and climate change through a model of enviro-tainment — entertainment combined with environment,” said Subhayan Datta, an environmental expert associated with the initiative.
A child and (right) Nicolas Facino, director of Alliance française du Bengale in Kolkata, take turns to get clocked within the climate photo frame
Suhasini Sengupta, who participated in the tableau show at Behala while pandal-hopping with friends and family, found the experience educational. “It has been extremely educative as well as entertaining. Not only us, but even the young ones in the group enjoyed it very much,” she said.
Basu underlined the need for government agencies to be the key driver in this fight against climate change in the city. “At the same time, individuals, too, have an equally important role in the process which we have tried to highlight. We have also highlighted the fact that the city’s climate action plan would soon be prepared,” she said.
The tableau treks
Participants were also offered a photo-op with a climate frame that said “Let’s fight Kolkata’s climate change”
The tableau, run by students of the Environmental Science department of Calcutta University, was spotted near popular pandals, including Chetla Agrani, Tridhara Sammilani, Behala Club and Santoshpur Avenue in south Kolkata and near several clubs in Baguihati and Salt Lake area during Puja days. It remained for an average of one hour at every spot.
“We have been really enjoying this; so many people are coming to the tableau, especially children, and listening to us, offering their views, participating in the competitions and perhaps going back with a little more awareness about the city’s climate change,” said Joydeep Das, one of the students who visited Behala.
Koel Basak, another student, said video and oral quizzes on the city’s environment and its resident species, many of which are quickly disappearing, were conducted among participants. “We instantly calculated the carbon footprints of individuals and their households, based on some basic data provided by them and also giving them specially prepared climate badges; which turned out to be quite a hit,” she said.
The nine-member student team also had Sayantani Halder, Srabani Sarkar, Puspita Banerjee, Prayasi Das, Prativa Gayen and Pritha Das
Participants were also offered a photo-op with a climate frame that said “Let’s fight Kolkata’s climate change”. “We put all photographs under a climate hashtag on social media. Children were particularly happy and many of them won chocolates by answering the quiz questions correctly,” Debangana Bhattacharya said.
The nine-member student team also had Sayantani Halder, Srabani Sarkar, Puspita Banerjee, Prayasi Das, Prativa Gayen and Pritha Das.
“This is really a great initiative to use the Puja platform for spreading climate awareness in such an interesting and entertaining manner,” said Nicolas Facino, director of Alliance française du Bengale in Kolkata; who participated in a tableau programme at Chetla Agrani.
“The imageries linking Puja and the environment, including kaash phool, as well as showcasing the live animals of deities as biodiversity was most interesting,” said Aniruddha Mukherjee, head of Environmental Science at Calcutta University.
Arup Haldar and Tapan Mukherjee; two eminent physicians who participated in the tableau programme, were all praise for the way it showcased environmental concerns.