A tryst with the Moon, Madame Tussauds, the marginalised this Durga Puja

Kolkata, Oct 4 (IANS) Fancy a flight to the Moon and back this Durga Puja? How about an encounter with Madame Tussauds? Theres also a peep into the celebrations for the marginalised that was initiated by Indian revolutionary Netaji Subash Chandra Bose before independence. Theres much on offer at the Puja marquees (pandals) this year.

With India’s successful exploits in outer space catching the imagination of the young and the old alike, organisers, over the past couple of years, have hopped on to the space bandwagon to entice the legions of pandal-hoppers to come and have a dekko — given the myriad options available in every nook and cranny of this bursting-at-the-seams eastern metropolis.

However, the organisers at Santosh Mitra Square (Lebutala Park) in north Kolkata, have adopted a different take on their space odyssey.

“Due to the frequent earthquakes, it is possible that we might have to colonise the Moon. In our pandal, we have shown how it is possible to build homes on the Moon (Chaander Bari). Through models and figures, we have showcased a human colony on the Moon,” a member of the organising committee told IANS.

After a lunar realty bite, head to south Kolkata’s Baghajatin for an Indian twist to the famed Madame Tussauds wax museum.

A glimpse of the chiselled features and cool composure of stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and ace footballers Neymar and Lionel Messi at the eponymous pandal will drive out any fatigue one might experience from the night-long pandal-hopping.

“We have tried to replicate Madame Tussauds because it stands for excellence in creative expression. Similarly, Durga Puja is a platform for local artists to display their excellence. There are 58 figures made from fibreclay, not wax,” Uttam Saha, Secretary, Baghajatin Rabindrapally Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee, told IANS.

“We intend to spread the message that if artists from Bengal are given better opportunities then they too can achieve greatness,” he said.

On a similar note, the marquee at south Kolkata’s Hazra Park by Kolkata’s civic workers seeks to accord equality to the marginalised and the downtrodden.

The celebration is by the civic workers, for the civic workers and encompasses the Harijans who toil day in and day out as scavengers and clean the city’s sewer systems.

“The Puja was started in 1942 by Subash Chandra Bose when he headed the municipal corporation and wanted to be inclusive. The caste system was very rigid. Harijans had no place in society but they were important employees of the corporation. Since then, the Puja has continued and involves the employees,” Sayandeb Chattopadhyay, Assistant General Secretary of Pouro Karmachari Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee, told IANS.

As part of the tradition, around 2,000 Harijans are invited to partake of the ‘prashad’ on Navami (ninth or penultimate day of the Puja).

What started out as a simple affair in a park has become a full-scale theme Puja, in the last few years.

“The theme this year is from ‘visarjan’ (immersion) to ‘bodhan’ (welcome), a reversal where we highlight the immersion first and then go onto the welcoming of the goddess. Usually, the visarjan is tinged with sadness, so we decided to take people back to the beginning of the five days when the entire city looks forward to the arrival of the goddess,” Chattopadhyay added.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at sahana.g@ians.in)