North Kolkata’s Old ‘Barowaari’ Durga Puja’s Are Now Turning To Theme

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Kolkata: Unable to buck the trend, some old ‘barowari’ Durga pujas of north Kolkata, are turning to theme this year.

Unlike the household pujas, including ‘bonedi’ ones (pujas organised by erstwhile zamindar families), ‘barowari’ pujas are organised with funds raised from the public through donations or subscriptions and sponsorship in present times.

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In their 80th year, Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja Committee in north Kolkata has themed its puja on ‘How music resonates in our lives and surroundings’.

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“This year we have turned to the theme of music or tried to reach out to the soul of music that echoes through this universe. From the sound of thunder during rains to the silence of winter chill, from the tracks played on a pen drive in a car stuck in a long jam, to the chant of mantras in pujas and the strains of azaan, there is a synergy of saptasur,” Manmohan Choudhury, a puja committee functionary said.

The caption of the theme of this year’s puja, which till recently had not deviated from the ‘sabeki’ idol (traditional idol) concept, is “Asir kanshite taito ebar surer murchhona” (sound of music reverberates in Kashi Bose Lane puja pandal on its 80th year).

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A little distance away, Maniktala Vivekananda Sporting Association has themed its puja, on its 71st year, as – ‘Mukhose Mora Mukher Mela’ (wherever you turn, you will see faces sporting masks).

“We have carried forward the lines of William Shakespeare – ‘All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players’ which mirrors our life and others we meet. On this journey knowingly or unknowingly we put on one, sometimes more than one mask to hide our real selves,” theme maker Raju Sutrodhar said.

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In their golden jubilee year, Shyambazar Nabin Sangho has chosen the theme ‘Shantir Bari’. “We are referring to the age-old religious rituals including sprinkling of ‘Shantir Jaal’ after a puja to pray for the well being of those present,” a puja committee spokesman said.

The pandal will be modelled as the verandah of an old village mansion from where temples of Lord Shiva and Maa Shitala will be seen.

For the past several years, organisers of several puja committees in the city and elsewhere in Bengal select themes around which the idols and pandals are decorated.

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However, steeped in past traditions, many of the north Kolkata puja committees, like Baghbazar Sarbojanin and Beadon Street Sarbojonin, have stuck to the traditional way of celebrations.