How do you know Durga Puja (or simply pujo) is just 45 days off? There are some early signs like the pujobarshikis’ that are already out in the stalls, the pictures of leaky Kumortuli workshops making the idols, the full-page newspaper ads by shoe-makers (Sreeleathers, Khadims, et al), the near-empty shops that indicate the lull before the storm, the elephantine queues before the railway counters to scrape out whatever is left over, and so on.
Since last year another early sign of pujo coming near is that of Star Ananda’s coverage of the best pandals and themes. This year it has already started in earnest, and the channel’s reporters are fanning out to promising pandals in and around the city.
One of their selections is the Lake Pally Durgotsab at Santoshpur for the superstar-megastar category. Lake Pally’s celebration is the 50th this year and there is a grand plan to lead the viewers along a hanging tunnel for about 80 feet before seeing Maa Durga. This pujo is not very far from my house, so I’ll be able to see it at my leisure.
Not everyone may be lucky, because the main thoroughfare, Santoshpur Avenue, by which side the Lake Pally’s pandal is coming up, is not a wide road, and there is bound to be serious traffic snarl during the pujo days.
The other indication of an imminent pujo is the flexing of muscle by the fire department. They make it mandatory for pujo committees to seek their clearance, and every year some of them would flout their diktats. The ensuing skirmish is kept aside for the next year, and then the same story repeats.
Here is a nice video on last year’s Durga Puja in Kolkata. If viewers have any collection of images/videos of pujo from any corner of the globe and want them to be seen here, please send them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org).