Potter mania on Puja days

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By SUDESHNA BANERJEE
  • Published 28.09.07
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In a festive season marked by paucity of themes, here’s one that packs a magical punch.

Hogwarts Express is steaming into FD Block, in Salt Lake, and will be parked by Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry in FD Park.

Yes, boy wizard Harry Potter will be holding court at the puja that shot to fame with a pandal based on the blockbuster Titanic in 1998.

Only this year, in place of the ship, it will be Harry’s school — a superstructure of bamboo poles.

“It is spread across 350 ft,” says decorator Sukesh Mondal. With a photocopy of a movie still in hand, he adds: “We are doing it tower by tower. The one on top stands at 94 ft”. A budget of Rs 5 lakh has been earmarked for the pandal.

But Hogwarts stands on a cliff, not grassy plains. So once the façade is ready, there will be 15-20 ft of rocks that will jut out into the park.

If Hogwarts alone does not pull the crowd, there is the train, straight from Platform 9¾. “We will have its headlight flashing and the engine spewing steam,” adds K.K. Deb of Deb Electricals.

Greeting one at the cave-like entry will be the covers of J.K. Rowling’s seven books and a range of magical creatures Hogwarts’s gamekeeper Hagrid would love to rear. “I do not know the names,” Mondal shrugs.

While the Harry Potter theme was mooted by Mondal’s six-year-old son Arijit, Mrittika Roy, a Class VIII student from the block, downloaded pictures of the castle from the Net and provided the Potter synopsis. “The boy who lived” himself will be standing in a life-size avatar inside the pandal, wand in hand and pet owl Hedwig on his shoulder.

The youngsters in the block are thrilled to have a theme after their heart. But there is apprehension as well.

“I hope they can pull it off,” said Gaurab Banerjee, a student.

But the organisers know they have a winner in hand. “We have hiked the rates for the stalls and banners,” said a delighted puja committee secretary Santanu Biswas.

“The crowd will be at least as big as the Titanic year,” he added. A request will be made to the police for extra security.

And then, it’s over to Pottermania on the Puja days.