Kolkata’s oldest world-famous Durga puja is under threat due to the Corona epidemic. Pooja committees may not enjoy the sponsorship this year due to a lack of sponsors. The big committees of Kolkata are having the most trouble because the cost of organizing their pujas is the highest, which is met by corporate sponsorship.
Durga Puja in Kolkata isn’t only a religious festival; it’s also a carnival, with jaw-dropping public art pieces springing up all over the city. For one week, Kolkata is turned into a massive public art exhibition, with thousands of people of pandals (fabricated structures that house the goddess) springing up all over the city. Themes and artworks are lavish in these constructions. People and vehicles flow in and out, engaging with the incredible pop-up buildings that surround them. Consider the pandals to be massive art installations, and ‘pandal hopping to be a massive public art crawl.
Durga puja commitee views on puja 2021
Somnath Das, general secretary of Santoshpur Lake Palli, one of the biggest Durga Puja organizers, said – “This year the condition of corporate sponsorship is very bad. This year, companies who are enthusiastic about advertising as hoarding banners are silent this time. 80 percent of the worship is met by corporate sponsorship but in the current situation, we are expecting only 30 percent corporate sponsorship. Because of this, we have had to halve the Puja budget.
The companies that have been providing sponsorship for years have raised their hands this year citing business slowdown due to Corona. As a result, most of the committees have had to reduce their worship budget by less than 50 %.
Many worship committees are worshiping with the remaining amount of last year. This year, there is no hope of collecting more money than asking for donations from house to house. Because the economic situation of common people in lockdown has already deteriorated. In such a situation, the office bearers and members of the worship committees may have to spend more money from their pockets.
Sabyasachi Ray, treasurer of Howrah Salkia’s chief Durga puja organizer, said, “Our corporate sponsorship is still zero.” Companies are not willing to spend money this year. People are also negative about offering puja donations.
Our worship comes from corporate sponsorship of 25 percent of the budget. Last year our Pooja budget was around eight lakh rupees, which this year we have to do one lakh rupees, which also seems difficult according to the time. Whereas two to two and a half lakh rupees were received from corporate sponsorship every year.
Shashwat Bose, Secretary of the Forum of Durgotsav, an organization of worship committees, is still positive about corporate sponsorship. He said – ‘It is true that corporate sponsors are less this time but till a month ago the kind of situation was not there anyway.
There has been a backlash from companies for sponsorship. We hope that even if there is not 100 percent, then 70 percent will get corporate sponsorship. One reason for this is that the condition of consumer goods and firms is good in the lockdown, so they will come forward for sponsorship. Apart from this, many such companies also for sponsorship
During the Corona transition, the color of many festivals has faded this time. Corona effect is also seen on Durga Puja. Several states have issued guidelines regarding celebrating Durga Puja. The Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh has advised caution about the festivals being celebrated during Kovid-19.
Along with this, a guideline has been released regarding worship. In West Bengal, masks and social distancing have been made mandatory in the pandal. At the same time, there is a ban on the Navratri festival in Gujarat.
Pre-pandemic, the big pandals would receive around 3 to 4 lakh guests each day, including people from other countries. I once spoke with a Canadian travel writer who had come to the event specifically for it. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Dominick A. Merle exclaimed, his expression awestruck.
“The Rose Bowl in the United States is the closest I can compare Durga Puja to—and even it doesn’t come near!”
Every year, tens of thousands of artists, artisans, and workers put on this spectacular spectacle. Here’s a glimpse at the folks who make it all happen.
Durga Puja Dates this Year 2021
Kolkata will be organized amidst adequate security
The lighted panels that line the streets during Durga Puja originated in Chandannagar, a former French colony. People who work in the lighting profession in this city spend a significant portion of their year putting on spectacular shows for major festivals. They spend weeks connecting multi-colored bulbs on wires to create animated representations of animals, flowers, people, automobiles, and even fire-breathing monsters. The final product is sometimes a remark on current events or a reflection of popular culture (think Bahubali, Harry Potter, or even portraits of Nobel prizewinners). They’ve even featured HIV/AIDS education.
Guidelines for Durga Puja have been released in West Bengal. Pooja committees have to take care of themselves and the safety of visiting visitors. The guideline says that Durga Puja should be organized in a big pandal. Also, the pandals should be open from all directions. Masks and social distancing are mandatory for those coming to the pandal.
Arrangements should be made to give masks to those who do not wear masks. Hand sanitizers will also be made available in the pandal premises. Volunteers must be wearing face masks and face shields. Anjali, Prasad Distribution, Sindoor Khela will have to be done according to the rules. No cultural program will be allowed inside or near the puja pandal. Their arrival time should be from 10 am to 3 pm.
Durga Puja Pandals in 2021
elaborate buildings made of fabric on bamboo frames that house the goddess’s idol—are created all throughout Kolkata. All through puja time, they are the focal point of the festivities. They are themed after current events and famous Bollywood movies, as well as folk art forms, religions, and even the Paris Opera House and Hogwarts. These are intricate paintings, some of which have even been shown internationally. German artist Gregor Schneider chose a replica of one of the pandals to be copied and displayed around the world. Schneider also collaborated with local crafters on an Ekdalia puja duplicate of a house in Rheydt, Germany.
The Shola Artists in Durga Puja Idols in 2021
The goddess’s adornments are traditionally constructed of shola pith, a milky-white sponge-wood originating from the shola plant prevalent in West Bengal’s marshy, waterlogged districts. The British patronized the shola cottage industry, which was utilized to create hats for the British–the famous solar topees.’ Today, shola artists create bouquets and decorating for export, such as flowers for packing and as gifts, Holiday decorations, and even shola Santas. With a shola doorway, this amazing craftsmanship was on show during the Edinburgh Festival.
Garba and Dandiya not allowed in Maharashtra
According to the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government, people can celebrate Durga Puja in their homes. Pandals can also be built, but the height of the idols in the houses should be up to 2 feet. Also, the height of the idols in the pandals should not be more than 4 feet. Collective events like Garba and Dandiya are not allowed. Protocol issued by Kovid-19 will have to be strictly followed.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (CM Mamata Banerjee), along with Durga Puja Committees, held an administrative and coordination meeting at the Netaji Indoor Stadium and issued several guidelines for Pooja’s concessions. The Chief Minister announced financial assistance of 50 thousand rupees to each Durga Puja Committee.
There are about 37 thousand worship organizers in the state, except for the puja events of the houses. Of these, 34,747 pooja events are held in the state police area and 2509 in the Kolkata police area. There are 1706 Puja events that are entirely supervised by women.
Kolkata Durga Puja Guidelines
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee released a guideline regarding the organization of the puja for the worship committees. The Chief Minister said that the pavilion will have to be kept open. If the roof of the pavilion is covered, the pavilion will be open from all sides. If there is a chance of closing around, then the roof should be open.
Pooja organizers were also asked to ensure physical distance among the people who visited the puja. It is compulsory to make masks from the pavilions half a kilometer away from the pavilions, to ensure rounding, to ensure barricades.
Also, people entering the pavilion will have to clean their hands with sanitizer, it has also been suggested to provide face shields to volunteers. Anjali, Prasad Distribution, and Sindoor played, will have to be done according to the fixed time and slot. This time Mamta Banerjee urged clubs not to do cultural programs under worship. He advised making the inauguration of the Puja at a small level, if possible.
The Chief Minister instructed to complete the timings for the Pujari Committees to watch and offer prizes from 10 am to 3 pm. Also, no more than 2 trains are allowed to enter the pavilion premises. He instructed the police to do immersion not on a single day, on different days, to ensure lighting and sanitizing arrangements in the ghats.
The online facility ‘Sahajan’ will be launched from October 2 to allow worship. The Chief Minister clarified that this time Pooja Carnival will not be organized on Red Road. According to the Chief Minister, organizing Carnival will be a risky step.
Apart from this, the Chief Minister also announced a 50 percent rebate in the electricity bill of CESC and State Power Distribution Company. Apart from this, taxes were also directed not to be collected by the Municipal Corporation, Municipality, and Panchayat. The fire brigade also will not take any charge this time.
On the occasion of Durga Puja, it was announced to increase the salary of Asha workers by 1000 rupees from the month of October under the government gifts. A hike of Rs 1000 has also been announced in the salary of Civic volunteers and Green Police.
The Chief Minister announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the retirement of Anganwadi workers. Referring to the condition of the hawkers, the Chief Minister said that he has not been able to earn for a long time due to Corona. Therefore, Rs.2000 will be given to every hawker family in the puja. The Chief Minister has a list of about 81 thousand such hawkers in the state.
During this, the Chief Minister also inaugurated the fire brigade upgrade at a cost of Rs 18 crore. Under this, many modern measures for fire fighting have been adopted by the fire department. On this occasion, Ms. Banerjee handed over her monthly certificate of 1000 rupees allowance to some Sanatani priests.
A check of Rs 5 crore for the upliftment of Dalit literature to the entertainment businessman, chairman of the Dalit Academy, a check of Rs 5 crore to Vivek Gupta for the Hindi Sahitya Academy, and 3.75 for the development of the civil and infrastructure of Islamia Hospital. Crores of rupees were handed over to Czech ministers Firhad Hakim and Javed Khan.