Author: Anirudh Mackar
Amazing celebrations in the City of Joy :- The six days of one of the most celebrated festivals of the world, The Durga Puja, were the days when thousands of hawkers and lakhs of visitors visited myriad pandals in and out of the city day in and day out. Everyday from early morning till late night, the city seemed to be teeming with crowds of all sorts. The continuous metro facility together with private and public transport sufficed the people with the utmost amenities which made their day brighter even more than the vibrant rays of the sun. The Kolkata Police left no stone unturned in protecting multifarious pandals as well as their visitors and helped them in every possible way. The increased number of volunteers assisting cops, woman constables, CCTV cameras, watch towers, Quick Response Teams and other such security measures had consolidated the security system of the town during the puja. Mushrooming of food stalls near the pandals had also brought a lot of convenience to the people as to the choice and quality of food. The joy and enthusiasm of pandal hopping at night in the lively atmosphere of Kolkata is just amazing. The pleasure of seeing the glittering lights hung on the trees, buildings and on the pandals is inexplicable. The seemingly uninhabited vistas appear to be the most inhabited ones during the puja due to classy pandals, sparkling lights and excellent eateries. The quality of pandals is ameliorating year after year. The light and sound system installed in myriad pandals is moving towards the unending road of innovation with the advent of new lights like LED lights, dancing lights, and other creative light and sound system. In the past years, spectacular lighting system used to be restricted only to pandals but now even the residential buildings in and out of the city are being covered with blazing , colorful lights and bulbs, so much so that people often mistake them to be pandals. Some of the pandals like the ones in Chaltabagan, Mudiali, Dum dum park, Bose Pukur, Shree Bhoomi, Behala, etc. look as if Paradise has come down to the earth. Most of the pandals have a theme of their own and so stand out as the one of its kind among the others. There were more than a hundred pandals which sent their visitors on a jolly ride to a totally unique world of creativity and if I were to write their description I could write a book of infinite pages. Some of these pandals and their idols had left their indelible blueprints in the wide canvas of our minds. The pandals in Mudiali have revolutionized the concept of pandals with one of them being made of small toy-like chariots of the Jagannath Temple of Puri , Orissa with golden lights enshrouding them. Another one had a theme of lotus while the other one was made of broomsticks. But the best among them was of Shib Mandir. It depicted some underwater creatures and worms. Minute works using wool, rope and other materials were indeed brilliant. The pandals like the one at Hadwa could be seen once in a blue moon. Its boundaries were made of thousands of colorful plastic cups and glasses with lights inside them. Inside the garden,on the ground were bamboo sticks looking like wheat crops. Another pandal at Santosh Mitra Square had the theme of a fountain in Rome named Fontana di Trevi. At Hathibagan, the pandal was made of glasses and plastics. The most famous pandal this year was undoubtedly that of Shreebhumi Sporting Club. They had made the Sanchi Stupa with hundreds of Buddha statues and designs, peacock designs enshrouding its exteriors and interiors. The idols are said to have worn jewelleries worth five crores made by Tanishq. This too ignited the curiosity of the visitors to visit this pandal. The most available thing in the areas of various pandals after oxygen appeared to be food. Thousands of hawkers and food stalls were put up beside the pandals offering all varities of foods and beverages. Pandal-hopping is incomplete without the streetfood of Kolkata. Many restaurants, bistros, dhabas and pizzerias remained open till the early dawn with visitors ‘flowing’ in very frequently. There were various kinds of rides which too attracted the crowd especially the tiny toddlers. The giant-wheels especially the ones in Park Circus, Girish Park, Hadwa, etc. ran throughout the night. There were also little marie-go-rounds for the little ones. Other rides like bumping cars, helicopters, eveready, toy trains, etc. also absorbed in visitors throughout the day as well as night. My overall experience was scintillating or to say in a colloquial term, awesome. I along with many others belive that the quality of the puja is becoming better year after year with enhancement in the creative minds of the people day by day. It is this excellent creativity of theirs which fetch them orders of idols from across the world. Thus,with the feeling of “ashtey bochor abar hobey’’, we bid Maa Durga a happy journey on her long odyssey towards her in-laws house after having stayed at her parents’ house.