Your kids may play with Barbies and you may have watched the movie Barbie recently but how much do you know about traditional dolls of India?
Bidhan Abasan, diagonally opposite Labony Estate, will be showcasing all kinds of dolls this year. “We shall display dolls of Rajasthan as well as of the districts of Birbhum and Purulia. There will be wooden and bamboo dolls. Visitors can pull strings and make puppets dance,” promises theme-maker Animesh Pal.
Minister Sujit Bose at Bidhan Abasan’s khuti puja
The pandal will be decorated with natural materials like bamboo, shaal pata and shital pati. The organisers are also getting a theme song recorded to be played at the pandal.
“Despite our puja being inside a gated community, we have seen that if we choose a creative theme and execute it well, word spreads and the crowd pours in,” says Soumen Mitra of the puja committee. “Last year, we had pandal-hoppers even at 2am.”
The IB Block Puja Committee, in the 37th year of its puja, is set to draw attention by making the tallest idol of goddess Durga in the block’s history — at 17ft.
The block performed its khuti puja on Janmashtami, an occasion marked with equal enthusiasm. A decorated pavilion was erected with the idol of Radha-Krishna standing at the entrance of IB Park. The beat of the dhak created an ambiance of twin celebrations. Community lunch for block residents was an additional feature this year.
Convenor of the puja committee Sudipto Mukherjee shared their Durga puja plans. The deity will be an ekchala Durga in daker saaj and will be sculpted by Pashupati Rudra Pal. This year’s theme is “Rajbarite sabeki pujo, notun dine purano khojo.” The pandal will look like a palace.
President Subhash Mukherjee said on Panchami garments would be distributed among 100 underprivileged and needy persons, followed by a cultural programme on agomoni by Amit Acharya. On Sashthi, a major attraction is chhau dance of Purulia. On Saptami, 25 children from a New Town-based NGO will dance. On Ashtami and Navami, plays will be staged by residents of the block.
The khuti puja was attended by minister and MLA Sujit Bose. He offered anjali to the Radha-Krishna deity and cracked a coconut. Councillor and borough chairman Ranjan Poddar and footballer Prabir Majumder were also present on the occasion.
Bose promised that all roads of Salt Lake would be repaired before Puja as funds had already been sanctioned.
Secretary Shakti Prasad Majumdar said that each and every lane of the block would be decorated with lights on the puja days.
The dew was wet on the grass on an August Sunday when the residents of AL Block and the organisers of AL Block’s Abasik Durgotsav came together in their park to hold this year’s khuti puja.
Prabuddha Neogi, president of the organising committee, explained that this practice was a relatively new one in AL Block, dating back about a decade. The puja’s concept this year would be the arrival and the departure of the goddess on a horse, he said.
Khuti puja in progress at AL Block
Secretary Subrata Dutta admitted that there was apparently little scriptural sanction for the performance of khuti puja. However, the ritual had evolved into a public proclamation of the start of the puja preparations.
The social and public resonance of the event was clearly evident as the event was attended by youngsters and seniors alike in significant numbers.
The ceremonies included the digging of a pit in the ground to erect the khuti and covering it with a red shalu cloth before its worship. The pole was garlanded with flowers and auspicious symbols were inscribed on it in vermilion. A short puja was performed with the lighting of a ritual diya, the ringing of the priest’s bell, the blowing of conch shells, and ululation by the assembled ladies. The various sounds mingled with the scent of burning incense in the air.
As is typical of traditional Bengali culture, the ceremony ended with the distribution of sweets amongst all those present.