With Durga Puja just round the corner, happy times are just a few days away. What adds to the happiness is the fact that the festival has got India’s official nomination for UNESCO’s 2020 list. Although Chennai does not match up to the grandeur of Kolkata, the celebration has found its own charm in the city over the years.
The Bengal Association in T Nagar, city’s oldest pujo venue, will be stepping into its 86th year with the felicitation of meritorious students by Shorosimohan Dan, former vice chancellor of Burdwan University. Soumya Guha Thakurta, secretary of the association says, “We expect a footfall of 5,000 per day with a 20% increase on Saptami and Ashtami as these fall on the weekend this year”. As for what is special this year, Soumya says the association will continue its green initiative and abstain from plastic use.“The idol will be in daak er saaj. Jiban Krishna Pal from Kolkata has been making our idol for the last 25 years. As for the cultural programmes, we are letting more new people take the lead to organise them.”
A team of 14 cooks from Kolkata will be serving the association and the people this pujo with bhog and sweets along with the vegetarian fare. Interesting cultural programmes include Bengali Drama Noti Binodini on Shashthi, a musical programme by Zee SaReGaMaPa artistes on Nabami night etc.
The South Madras Cultural Association is the city’s largest pujo association. They have been celebrating pujo for 41 years now. Sudip Mitra, association President, expects a footfall of 1.5 lakh through the festival. Keeping with the festive spirit, the association does not forget to be inclusive in celebrating oneness. They also plan to include downtrodden children as a part of the children’s programme. “Children of Tsunami colony will perform”, says Sudip. Food and SMCA go hand in hand and leading restaurants and sweet shops will be putting up stalls.
Dakshin Chennai Prabasi Cultural Association near OMR is in its 6th year now. Jaypal Menon, an active member of the association, shares that the inauguration will be done by their oldest member Ratna Lahiri, who is 80 now. The association programmes feature home grown talents and no artistes from outside.
Jaypal, a Malayalee by origin but born and raised in Kolkata, feels, “The festival is not restricted to Bengali community alone and many Malayalees and Tamilians with a Bengali connect also participate”.
It will be a silver jubilee celebration for Dakshini Society in Anna Nagar this year. Mukul Dasgupta, general secretary of the association says, “We are expecting a footfall of 500-600 every day and we will have Dhakis coming from Bardhaman district of West Bengal.” Their pujo venue is Thanthai Periyar community hall in Anna Nagar West, Chennai.
Kamona Sarkar, who has settled in the city for threedecades now, does not miss Kolkata’s pujo. “I happened to be there once a few years back and did witness the ever emerging theme based pandals by various clubs and the extravaganza, but I feel the connect more here. I’m deeply involved in all the pujo work and it is a very homely atmosphere.”
Sreejata Banerjee, a retired professor, says, “I have lived here for the past 36 years and pujo here brings us together as a family all thanks to the Bengali association in T Nagar with whom I have been closely associated since I moved to Chennai.”...