Recycling is the buzzword for an environmentally conscious world and nobody knows it better than us. The concept of use and throw is actually foreign to Indians and our jugaad-wired brains often come up with innovative uses and this is amply demonstrated by the sale of pandals that takes place after Durga Puja. Most of the big budget pandals across the city are being relocated to Chandannagar as organisers buy these pandals and reconstruct them piece by piece for Jagaddhatri Puja.
“Like Durga Puja in Kolkata, Jagaddhatri Puja in Chandannagar is celebrated at a grand scale and a lot of visitors make the trip to Chandannagar to catch a glimpse of its famed lighting. After Durga Puja, brands also look for these local festivals and organisers vie for the awards. Organisers are usually on look out for the most creative and awarded Durga Pujas of Kolkata. They generally avoid buying pandals that has a lot of installation work because it becomes difficult to set them up within the short time span between Durga Puja and Jagaddhatri Puja,” explained Bijit Bhattacharjee, the the man behind the 66 Pally Durga Puja near Kalighat. The hunt for pandals starts from Mahalaya itself as Jagaddhatri Puja organisers scout the entire city for the pandals they think will secure awards. The search concludes by Nabami once they find a suitable pandal but budget always remains an issue. “The price depends on the artist and the kind of artistry. A pandal from Kolkata generally gets sold at one fourth or one fifth of its cost. The bigger barowari Pujas of Chandannagar are actually the interested parties,” said Bijit Bhattacharjee who confided that 66 Pally puja pandal will be recreated at a barowari puja near the Barabazar area of Chandannagar.
“The trend of buying pandals came into practice at the turn of the century when the theme concept caught on. Generally Chandannagar Jagaddhatri Pujas are famous for their light works and immersion but now there is an equal craze for pandals as well. The time span between Durga Puja and Jagaddhatri Puja is so less that it becomes difficult for artistes to create new pandals at Chandannagar, therefore we negotiate a deal to transport their work from Kolkata. This allows us not only to save time but also helps in reducing cost to a great extent,” said a Puja organiser from Chandannagar. He further went on to explain that the concept of awards has set foot at Chandannagar as well which makes the swooping on top award winning pandals from Kolkata a tough affair between rival puja committees. “Every barowari puja wants to bag the best pandals from Kolkata and draw the biggest crowds. They all want to win the best puja award and because of this, the rivalry is more than ever. In case of buying the pandal of a theme puja, we directly deal with the artist but while acquiring pandals of only decorative make, we deal with the puja organisers or the decorators.”
Organisers in Chandannagar and especially in Kolkata spend an exorbitant amount of money each year for organising their respective Pujas. But they say that beyond rivalry, competition and awards their lies a certain satisfaction in getting recognized for their effort. In the present times we cannot ignore the fact that Puja is no longer only a religious affair. Be it Durga Puja or Jagaddhatri Puja, there is an inherent social bonding about the entire festivity. It’s a grand celebration and it’s there for all to participate and see. “As organisers, awards are not the first thing that we look at while planning the Puja. We look at innovation, creativity and most importantly, we look at bettering our previous efforts. Of course, winning an award does feel good, but what feels better is winning the hearts of everyone who comes to our pandal. That is our ultimate aim, to create something each year that will leave everyone spellbound,” said the organiser of a North Kolkata Puja.
Be it for winning awards or recognition, the sale of Durga Puja pandals is indeed a perfect solution for preserving the artistic work for a few more days. While the cost of taking away the entire pandal might be one fifth of the actual cost, the thrill and the visual impact remains the same. So, the next time you are in Chandannagar for Jagaddhatri Puja, keep your eyes open for you might just spot an award winning Durga Puja pandal from Kolkata.