Even as Durga Puja festivities wound up in the city of Lucknow, Bengalis have been facing rather trying times to ensure this Durga Puja went off like any other year. The two headed demon of inclement weather and economic slowdown have hit the average Bengali revellers badly.
The Bengali Bhadralok has been trying desperately to keep the festivities going with least dumbing down of what many consider the biggest festive carnival annually.
Many in the city for weeks including pandal makers and artisans have been waiting for a kind of intervention from the almighty so that Ma Durga’s stay in her parents place is smooth.
With economic slowdown hitting festivites hard, several committees have either curtailed its programme or increased collection from members or other sources. There are also humble donations in the city that are helping this Pujo meet its target.
Even the community feast or bhog is slated to take a beating with vegetables costing the earth now. Committees are likely to shell out more money this time.
Most of the prominent Pujas are taking a member contribution of Rs 1,000 each.
Many are even cutting short the budget of the pandal, cultural programme and electric illumination. There is no compromise though on bhog and the idol.
The last time the city faced such a situation was during the economic slowdown in 2008 when markets crashed.
Multiple associations this year have increased the number of eateries and exhibition stalls.
Bengali Club has managed the budget because some of the committed donors made their contribution generously.
On the other hand the problem of inclement weather too continues to bother the city. Giving final touches to idols and pandals has bee a tricky job for artisans.
As Durga Puja starts, majority of the 250-odd puja pandals have found it difficult to reach the near completion, even as homes gear up to welcome Ma Durga. Sculptors and artisans have been using halogen lights and fans so that any wetness in the idols goes fast, so as to give finishing touches.
Artists rue that painting damp idols cannot happen. Some are also lighting fire to remove moisture from the room,” says a local idol maker.
Usually idols are dried up in the sun, but with cloud cover that has not been possible so far. Idols are covered in plastic sheets and tarpaulin.
The city will see many lively idols gracing the pandals across the city. The Rabindrapalli Kali Bari will have an 80 feet by 60 feet pandal, modelled on Odisha temple. The welcome arches and decorations are yet to be setup.
La Touche Road Puja Sansad too is hard pressed for time as they have missed their target of readying the pandal by Tuesday.
Devotees meanwhile are confident that Ma will come, she will conquer and bless all.
The grandest of all pujas in the city will be at ‘Sadbhavna Sanskritik Samiti’, Sahara States, Jankipuram inspired by the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Baahubali’. The recreation of the fictitious ‘Mahishmati palace’ with a replica of the Chittorgarh Fortwill add to the royal splendour of this Durga Puja.
The creation has seen the use of 3.5 lakh metre cotton cloth, four quintals of iron nails, a quintal of pins and 650 litres of paint.
Nearly 5,700 bamboos have been used. The Baahubali pandal is 100 feet wide, 90 feet high and 60 feet deep (length).
For hosting cultural events, a separate pandal, ‘Rang Mahal’ — measuring 80 ft x 30 ft x 50 ft — has been created. Durga Puja started on October 3.