Monday, 30th October 2017

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Puja war of words in Trinamul

Veteran minister against three younger colleagues

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 21.10.18, 2:02 AM
  • Updated 21.10.18, 2:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
Ekdalia Evergreen File picture

Veteran Subrata Mukherjee versus three younger heavyweights — battle lines seem to have been drawn within the Trinamul Congress over whose Puja is better.

Panchayat minister Mukherjee said on Sashthi that theme-based Durga pujas were not “Durga Puja” but only “Durgotsav (which can be translated as Durga Festival)”.

“Ota pujo noy, ota holo Durgotsav. Aamader ta holo Durga pujo. Eta simple parthokko (That is not Puja, that is only Durgotsav. Ours is Durga Puja. This is the simple difference),” Mukherjee, the man behind Ekdalia Evergreen, told TV channel ABP Ananda on Monday.

Mukherjee added theme pujas did a lot of things that one “cannot do with the goddess. They do as corporate houses want”.

His comments triggered sharp rebuttals from three fellow ministers.

Suruchi Sangha, Naktala Udayan Sangha and Chetla Agrani have emerged as popular theme pujas. Public works development and sports minister Aroop Biswas is associated with Suruchi Sangha (in New Alipore), education minister Partha Chatterjee with Naktala Udayan Sangha and urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim with Chetla Agrani.

Biswas had on Ashtami suggested that Ekdalia drew crowds because of its location. “Even a danguli (gilli danda) match at Gariahat will draw a crowd,” he told the channel.

“Lakhs of people come to isolated places like ours to see the craft. People come to see goddess Durga. The goddess is present here (at Suruchi Sangha).”

Ekdalia Evergreen, one of the biggest crowd-pullers, “worships the goddess as (she is worshipped) in a house”, Mukherjee told Metro on Saturday.

Chatterjee and Hakim, too, suggested that organising a puja at Gariahat was far easier than organising it at Naktala or Chetla.

Hakim said: “People will go to Gariahat even if Subratada makes an ekchala idol.... We have to attract people by exhibiting the art and craft of Bengal whereas Subratada’s Puja only exhibit the Puja.”

Chatterjee doubted whether Mukherjee would have achieved as much success had his puja been at Batanagar, in South 24-Parganas.

“There are no big-ticket pujas close to Naktala Udayan Sangha. People come here to watch this puja. They are committed visitors... whereas if you go to Ekdalia, you can see so many other big-ticket pujas,” Chatterjee said.

Theme puja has become a rage since 2001, when Bosepukur Sitala Mandir created a pandal of earthen cups. Thousands turned up at the pandal daily, many of whom had no prior idea where the place was.

“I think both traditional pujas and theme pujas have their own importance. Theme pujas have opened an industry that provides work and opportunity to so many designers, craftsmen and others,” said architect Abin Chaudhuri, who designed the pandal of Behala Notun Dal, using tens of steel cubes as a symbol against “regimentation”.

All three — Chatterjee, Biswas and Hakim — however, emphasised that they were in no way demeaning the kind of puja their senior cabinet colleague was involved in.

While the sparring continues, the one thread that ties all four pujas is the fact that they were inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Naktala Udayan Sangha
Naktala Udayan Sangha Sanat Kr Sinha
Chetla Agrani
Chetla Agrani Arnab Mondal
Suruchi Sangha
Suruchi Sangha Shuvo Roychaudhury