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Durga Puja Theme

Durga Puja pandal showcases farmers’ protest

Plight of agitators showcased at pandal

Sudeshna Banerjee | Published 04.10.21, 07:28 AM
A tractor at the Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra pandal entrance.

A tractor at the Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra pandal entrance.

Sudeshna Banerjee

A puja in Dum Dum Park in northeast Kolkata is raising a sickle and more in support of farmers who feed the world but remain a deprived lot that has to rise in agitation every time their rights are trampled upon. And the most visible item used as décor at the Bharat Chakra pandal is the humble chappal.

Hundreds of worn-out and torn slippers, lying in a heap at a side or stuck to the pandal’s inner wall like footprints, bear testimony to a gathering that has seemingly been scattered by force. A law enforcers’ barricade outside confirms the assumption.


“Farmers are vital for our survival. They nurture their produce like parents. The process involves emotions. Yet such is their lot that the little that they have often gets snatched away by the powers that be. That is the situation today just as it has been during every farmers’ movement down the ages. If they move away from farming what will we eat? Plastic?” said Anirban Das, who has conceptualised the theme.

The narrative at the pandal draws on a long line of rebellions in Bengal, from the late 18th century Sanyasi Revolt to the Tebhaga Movement of 1946-47. There are, of course, references to the current farmers’ agitation in Punjab and Telengana as well in posters that say “Farming Bills are Suicidal” or “We are Farmers, not Terrorists” or “Farmers are Food Soldiers”.

A tractor is parked at the entrance with one of its large wings forming the arch over the entrance. In place of feathers, it has paper chits bearing names of agitations and agitators from history. “We want their movement to take wing and achieve their end,” Anirban said.

A visitor walks by the barricaded scene with plastic bottles and slippers scattered all around. “We brought in a truckful of slippers,” he added. At one side of the entry, video footage of farmers’ agitations will be projected on a pile of haystacks.

There is a mix of 2D paintings and 3D live installation on a wall. A car is painted with two actual tyres attached, under which a figure lies prostrate. An accompanying slogan in Bengali speaks of farmers being run over by the rich and powerful. Next to it, several nooses hang, with a slogan talking of unpaid loans forcing farmers to suicide. Several fists are painted in another section, each fist holding an actual sickle.

Beyond this life of deprivation and agitation is their dream – the paddy field. The grains and stalks are larger than life. The aim is to make human beings passing underneath feel as puny as field rats, emphasising the importance of agricultural produce.

Amid the produce, sits Durga in the aspect of a farmer’s wife, in a red-bordered white sari. The artist plans to leave the idol in its natural clay state, with just a hand-dabbed coat of turmeric paste providing a matted look.

“Durga Puja provides the biggest public platform to raise awareness and the months-long farmers’ movement deserves to be highlighted on that platform,” said club secretary Pratik Choudhury.

Last updated on 04.10.21, 07:28 AM

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