Durga Puja, what is thine art?

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Kolkata, Oct 5: Durga Puja bears a special appeal for West Bengal when it comes to showcasing innovative pursuits sought in the construction of pandals and creation of idols, hovering around traditional worship of the goddess.

Themed on various subjects, the pandals come up in various parts of the city and its outskirts, inviting attention all over the state. The More is the footfall, the wider is an organiser's smile.

Moreover, various corporate firms announce awards in recognition of a pandal's excellence in various disciplines like idols, works of lighting, design and ambience, prompting the organisers to dish out innovative themes every year sans repetition.

Despite conventional motifs, portraying Devi Durga's heroic feat in defeating evil forces inside a pandal resembling a place for worship in vogue, offbeat themes have also taken shape in galore.

Among the notables, the Santosh Mitra Square in Central Kolkata bears a special mention for resembling its pandal with the Tata Motors' much-touted small-car ''Nano'' project in Singur. A big lock with iron shackles is also discerned encompassing the entire ''project''.

On the other hand, burning issues like global warming have impelled some organisers to conceive an earth half-immersed into a bucket of fire and finally executed in the pandal at the Mohammed Ali Park in Central Kolkata.

''The global warming is one of the important issues baffling the scientists in finding the remedies. The rise in sea-levels is effectuated by the heating of the earth resulting into a constant melting of ice in the polar regions. We hope that the theme would raise awareness among the masses on global warming,'' one of the organisers informed.

The conflict between agriculture and industry too finds expression on the southern outskirts of Kolkata in Rajpur. On one side, a structure depicting industry has been juxtaposed with a farmland on the other hand and the main marquee stands erect in between the two.

While the College Square has set up a pandal resembling a temple in Rajasthan, the Ajeya Sangha of Haridevpur has created an ambience embowered into the realm of nature. Even the idols of Devi Durga and her children are installed inside a ''cave'' depicted as a natural formation.

The 41 Pally in the city's eastern part also displayed the semblance of human creativity in nature, a phenomenon christened 'Katum Kutum' by Abanindranath Tagore way back in 1931. He found how roots, stems, leaves and plants transpired into the artistic representations of living forms by growing into interesting shapes.

''At least 60,000 pieces of stems, trunks, bark of trees and branches, apart from the nests of humming birds, were painstakingly collected to give completion to our coveted theme. We are betting big when it comes to notch up the first prize,'' one of the organisers of 41 Pally disclosed.

Meanwhile, Babubagan, one of the renowned Durga Puja organisers in the city's southern part, has decided to sport an ambience depicting the cosmos with idols placed in such a fashion that they appear to be suspended.

Noteworthy among others is the pandal built up at Ahiritola, in the northern part of the city, as its entire milieu is made to manifest the martial aspect of Devi Durga. The embodiment of Power signified by the Goddess is carried out with adorning the entire set-up with weapons, implying a virile and harsh manufacture.

Another notable Puja pandal is the Telengabagan in the North Kolkata where the artists have showcased an art-form on the verge of extinction in the country, having its origin in Benaras. It is the craft of making dolls by carving woods.

''The government has banned felling of particular kind of trees for manufacturing dolls which has ultimately hit the artists hard.

Our emphasis will be to throw light on such works of art, dating back to ancient ages. Moreover, the decorations on the walls of the pandal depict the art form of Panchakeshi temple in Benaras,'' explained the organiser of the club.

The Chaltabagan in Manicktala in the city's northern region has also come up with a pandal by using the iron nets and creating several sculptures based on the material, while Nalini Square is betting big on its marquee set up with piece-boards and coconut fibres.


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