When the theme maker was acting pricey, residents of a housing complex on VIP Road got their hands dirty and decorated the pandal themselves.
“The theme maker we approached was hard-pressed for time and unable to commit a date. But since the festival was approaching fast, I figured we might as well do it ourselves,” said Debajyoti Roy, secretary of Koyla Vihar Abhinandan Utsav committee. “Since this year Unesco has included Kolkata’s Durga puja in the list of intangible cultural heritage, I thought we could make this our theme.”
Roy conceptualised the theme and residents executed it. They picked up material from Burrabazar and then cut, glued, painted it all. They used items and created motifs typical of rural Bengal like lanterns and baskets. They painted faces of Durga and motifs like dhol on clay plates and put up a flex banner with a painting of people from different religions thanking Unesco for the honour.
But executing a theme-based pandal meant sleepless nights for the 10-odd residents who formed a core committee of artistes.
“At times I was so exhausted that I felt like going home to sleep. But seeing others work inspired me to carry on,” said Rounak Das, a first year MSc student, who spent a night working on the chalchitra. “There is a different kind of fun and satisfaction in working on your pandal. Had we got the theme-maker to do it, we would have missed the experience.”
Gaurav Das recalls working tirelessly, especially in the final leg of preparations. “From Mahalaya to Dashami, there is not a single moment when you can rest,” said the committee member who had associated with the 17-year-old puja since the early years. “No matter how late we stayed up till, the next morning we would try to be at the pandal before anyone else,” added Anindya Bhattacharya, another veteran member.