Ardhnariswar To Sex Workers: Durga Puja Pandals Living On Edge

While the talented Bengali population is always known for their distinct touch – through pandal decoration and theme-based Durga Puja – over the years, creativity has started to live on the edge.

KOLKATA | Updated: 04 October, 2022 7:10 am IST

The Durga Puja in Kolkata has attracted visitors for generations. And it was not the Bengali population that thronged to relive the very essence that made them. Hundreds of non-Bengali people also travel to the City of Joy to soak in the festive mode.

While the talented Bengali population is always known for their distinct touch – through pandal decoration and theme-based Durga Puja – over the years, creativity has started to live on the edge.

One such pandal is Nawpara Dadabhai Sangh Puja Committee, which has painted and crafted the lives of sex workers as its theme. It represents the everyday struggle of a sex worker and how society views these women.

Incidentally, Nawpara also attracted a crowd with its first-ever silicon Durga with an uncanny real-life look.

The entrance to the pandal has several paintings of women, which lead to a statue of a woman trying to veil herself. Following this, one reaches a miniature model highlighting how ‘baiji’ used to live in the bygone era.

Speaking to The New Indian, Anjan Pal, president of Nawpara Dadabhai Sangha, said, “Our main theme is based on sex workers and their security. They have several rights in society as per the law, but in reality they are deprived of all. We have tried to send an awareness message for these women and it is up to all.”

“Our Durga idol is made up of silicon. Here, Maa Durga embraces all human beings of all strata as her children, regardless of religious differences,” Pal added.

North Kolkata’s Sinthee Ghosh Para Pujo has highlighted Ardhnariswar – Radha and Krishna in a Durga idol.

While the swaroop is undoubtedly striking, the organisers also took the liberty to replace the traditional weapons and decorations. Here the idol is carrying a flute in two hands, whereas the other hands are decked with flowers.

At the Lowland Sarbojanin Durgotsav, the idol of Durga as well as the interior have been shaped as per Rajasthani fort and culture.

The grandeur and vibrancy of the Rajasthani lifestyle have been portrayed in vivid detail in this pandal. The theme also highlights the influence of the members of the Rajasthani community who have a strong and historic connection with the city.

The Kumartuli Sarbojanin Durgotsav Committee paid tribute to the idol makers, who sweated it out in shaping many visions of Maa Durga.

The pandal also inscribed the names of thousands of such artisans who have made idols with their artistry and niches on the wall, many of whom have already died.

With the Puja being held after a gap of two years – owing to COVID – organisers are leaving no stone unturned to show why they are on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

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