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Home » My Kolkata » Durga Puja Special » I would want Durga’s power to evoke emotion and sentiment while leaving: Mudar Patherya

Durga Puja 2023

I would want Durga’s power to evoke emotion and sentiment while leaving: Mudar Patherya

For the photographer-writer, who misses the old pujas of Mission Row, this year is about discovering the ethos of Kolkata during Durga Puja

Vedant Karia | Published 11.10.23, 09:05 PM
Mudar Patherya has 'a fetish for the pujas curated by Susanta Paul, Amar Sarkar, and Bhabatosh Sutar'

Mudar Patherya has 'a fetish for the pujas curated by Susanta Paul, Amar Sarkar, and Bhabatosh Sutar'

All photos courtesy Mudar Patherya

For entrepreneur, social activist and writer Mudar Patherya, Kolkata is not just his hometown, but also his muse. For the men and the mind behind My Kolkata’s column, If you know Calcutta, the way I know Calcutta…, is only fitting that this Durga Puja is about heritage rather than scale. We caught up with him for a short chat about his festive plans.

Will you be celebrating Durga Puja in Kolkata?

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Yes, for the first time in a few years. I have deliberately, consciously and strategically made this decision to understand the ethos of the city during Durga Puja from a deeper perspective. I want to enter homes, speak to residents and understand their culture. I have already finalised a sequence of home pujas that I want to visit which includes Saha Bari, Daw Bari and Badan Chandra Roy. My focus is on pujas that are intimate and small, rather than grand and impersonal. Coincidentally, every name on my list is at least 150 years old, if not more.

How do you celebrate the festival every year?

We generally take a break from work and go on a trip, usually abroad.

Which pandals do you enjoy visiting the most?

I have a fetish for the pujas curated by Susanta Paul, Amar Sarkar, and Bhabatosh Sutar. Even if their pandals are at the other end of the city, I will still make it a point to visit them. I also have a soft spot towards Shibmandir, since it is the puja nearest to my home.

What is your favourite part of Durga Puja?

I would call it a tie between Kumari Puja and sindoor khela. While I love the colour in the latter, I cherish the former for the sheer innocence. There is a certain masoomiyat in seeing the child dressed up.

Is there a special outfit you’ve picked out? If not, what do you usually wear?

I normally go at night after 10pm, so I just choose something that I am most comfortable with. I would term it as ‘extremely casual wear’.

What is your fondest Puja memory?

The pujas of Mission Row would have a distinct echo throughout the neighbourhood. They would play songs at one end of the locality, and you would be able to hear it at the other end. While their pujas would stylistically be the same every year, the auditory memory continues to endure within me. It would be a harbinger of the wondrous season that was emerging.

Is there a particular lesser-known corner of the city that you enjoy visiting during this time?

That’s a great question. We’ve not been very adventurous so far, but the time has come to reverse that. My goal is to seek out parts of the city where the festival is celebrated in the most intimate ways. One of my favourite spaces is Dalal House, which is very near where I live. It doesn’t have a boundary wall, barricade or barbed wire, and you can stand outside and see the celebrations. They have a tradition of dhunuchi naach in their courtyard, and I’m looking forward to witnessing it again this time.

'My goal is to seek out parts of the city where the festival is celebrated in the most intimate ways,' says Mudar

'My goal is to seek out parts of the city where the festival is celebrated in the most intimate ways,' says Mudar

One power of Durga that you would like to have?

The deity has a very emotional hold over the people, not just when she visits and leaves, but also when she is remembered and cherished with tears. I would want the power to evoke emotion and sentiment while leaving too. This isn’t just a philosophy restricted to the Puja, but also extends to life. If we can leave this world and have people cry for us, we might have achieved what we set out to do.

Last updated on 11.10.23, 09:07 PM
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