The Making of Durga - The Kumartuli View
People who help others enjoying the Pujas
The colours of Puja - Calcutta
The corporate sector
Most of the images worshipped in different Puja pandals of Calcutta are actually modelled in Kumartuli,near Sovabazar in Calcutta. Kumartuli has been the nerve centre of image making for more than a century. Many of the present day clay modellers owe their origin to the famous clay modelling clans of Nadia district in West Bengal, though there are many exceptions nowadays. This form of art has been a hereditary aspect of the people of Kumartuli. However, as time has passed by, various changes in the iconography of the Goddess has been noticed time and again. From the very primitive 'Ekchala' model upto the Dinossaur riding Devi, the Kumartuli clay modellers are the people who have given form to the changing tastes of Calcuttans. Kumartuli even exports the images to USA and other countries, where Durga Puja have also gained popularity, thanks to the increasing population of Bengalis there. However, the local market for them does not bear as good a picture. Cost of raw materials have gone high, while that boom is absent in the sale price. Many of the children of these artisans have left their hereditary profession for good and joined other more remmunerative professions. However, one can only hope that days shall change for the Kumartuli, helping this age old heritage to survive.
The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety of the drum, known as 'Dhak,' enthralls the hearts of the Calcutta with its majestic rhythm right from the day of 'Sasthi.' This drum is held on the shoulder with the beating side in the bottom and is beaten with two sticks, one thick and another thin. Ninety Nine percent of the people who plays these dhaks are from outside Calcutta. Round the year, most of them earn their livelyhood by working as labourers in paddy fields. However, as 'Sasthi' comes by, the 'Dhaki's, as they are called in Bengali, starts gathering in places adjacent to the different railway stations in and around Calcutta. They are picked from there by the Puja organisers and are contracted for the four days of Puja. Nowadays, with the advent of the electronic gadgets and electric music, the 'Dhaki's have lost their importance in the city pujas. In many cases, the absence of a Dhaki is made up by playing pre-recorded cassettes through loud speakers. Only in those Pujas, where authenticity has been the motto of the organisers, the Dhakis and their Dhaks are given the due importance.
People who help others enjoy the Pujas
There are, however, several people who play the most vital role in helping Calcuttans enjoy their Pujas . They are the people who support the common man with the basic amenities. Police personnel are on round the clock duty during this time. Electric supply staff are always on alert to ensure proper power supply to the city. The pandals being prone to fires, firemen are very busy during the Pujas. The staff in the buses and trains help people reach places. Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff spend their time amidst usual tensions. For the creamtorium staff, life is as usual since there is no stop to dead bodies being brought there. Calcutta owes much of its puja rejoice to these selected group of people who provide vital services. And finally, we must not forget about the 'Purohits,' the priests who undertake all the rituals and chant the 'mantras' of the Pujas.
The colours of Puja - Calcutta The entire city of Calcutta turns into a fairground during the four days of Puja with almost everyone coming out of their houses to attend community functions. Wearing new clothes is the call of the day. From the Biswakarma Puja, which is about one month prior to the Pujas, till the day of 'Sasthi,' Calcutta experiences an unthinkable shopping spree. Sarees, churidaars, ghagras, shirts, trousers, shoes, jewellery are purchased in volumes from the crowded city shops by Calcuttans, who are out to find out the 'right thing' for themselves and loved ones just before the Pujas. Peak of the sales boom is experienced by the Calcutta shopkeepers, as the street hawkers also have their share of it. Discounts and free gifts are offered by sellers in a manner which tends to outsmart each other. People are seen standing in long queues before shops to purchase items available at a good discount. Other household items like food-processors, watches, sound systems, televisions etc. are also sold in much larger volumes than usual. A major part of this shopping spree is funded through special Puja bonuses received by working people, while the popularity of credit cards with the common man nowadays, adds muscle to his buying power.
Baluchori, the exclusive contribution of Bishnupur in West Bengal to the Indian fashion world is the most popular item among ladies who prefer to wear the more authentic kind of apparel. This year's saree sales also owes a major portion of it to the synthetic variety. Other popular sarees this year are 'Pachampalli' and 'Byomkai Silk.' Among other dresees, Ghagra Choli and 'lacha' are very popular this year. Denim trousers and denim short skirts have also gained popularity lately. Low cost durable shoes are retaining their popularity for the last few years, and the more fancy varieties are also popular as well. For men, denim is very popular this year. T shirts and other casual wears have their share of the market. The 1996 puja is also experiencing an increasing trend towards purchase of other household items. It is a high time for sound system manufacturers, and all the foreign brands, available in the Indian market of late - thanks to the liberalisation policy of the Government, are gaining in terms of sales. Children, as usual, are preferring colourful dresses with some blend of denim. There has been an increasing value attachment to brands this year, with people asking for brand names instead of just asking for the variety.
The corporate sector
A great deal of puja related activity is noticed in the corporate sector in West Bengal as well as other parts of the country. This year, companies engaged in manufacturing dress materials are announcing heavy discounts as well as surprise gifts ranging from ball-point pens to cars to one Kg of pure gold. Large amounts are spent on advertising in the form of banners, hoardings and glow-signs as well as in the print media. Companies have announced prizes for the best image, the best pandal and other things related to pujas. Some of them are even sponsoring parts of the community pujas to get more mileage in the advertisement front.
Homepage of Durga Puja Stuttgart
Please send your feedback by email to :
Visit the homepage of Timir Kanti Ganguly
or go back to the
Durga Puja Stuttgart Homepage