In cognizance of the COVID-19 situation in Bengal and respecting the Calcutta High Court order, we urged our readers to stay home this puja.
To quench your longing for pandal-hopping, The Siyahi Columns brought the best of Durga Puja on your screen.
From 22nd to 26th October, we shared exclusive photos shared with us by the top Puja Committees on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
Now, we have another surprise in store. Our expert jury comprising artists, writers, photographers, journalists, and of course, you, will vote for the best theme Pujo this year. The top three themes in Kolkata will be rewarded with *exclusive feature* coverage in our magazine!
We chose the following pandals as a part of our virtual Puja Parikrama and the winner will be chosen among them.
1. Suruchi Sangha
Theme: Ebar Utsav Noy, Hok Manusher Pujo
Clad in pristine white and red, the Devi is seated on Padmasana. The use of bright yellow on the idol exudes the essence of love, care, and assurance. As the world is plagued by a pandemic, the Devi continues to protect her children from the evil eye.
The soothing use of chromatic hues blends perfectly with the serene silence of the idol.
2. 66 Pally
Inspired by Ray’s Apu Trilogy, 66 Pally brings to life the integral elements of the films. Here Sarbajjaya is depicted as the Devi, with Apu seated on her lap while Harihar looks on.
Their humble abode engulfed in love is dimly lit with the iconic oil lamp that spreads melancholy in the heart of every onlooker.
3. Barisha Club
Theme: Marir Deshe Traner Beshe Annapurnar Bhelay Bheshe
Barisha Club’s phenomenal theme has already made waves nationwide. Here, Durga is depicted as the migrant mother holding her impoverished child, modelled on the thousands migrant workers who returned home amid uncertainty at the beginning of lockdown this year.
The decor of the pandal sports traces of hope amid all the distress and despair.
4. Mudiali Club
Theme: Day (দায়)
Mudiali club captures the heavenly aura of the Goddess in her ever-beautiful traditional avatar.
The decor of the pandal exudes the essence of a wonderland, away from the death and despair of the world in 2020.
5.Naktala Udayan Sangha
Here the Devi can be perceived as the warrior goddess, blowing her conch to usher in the message of her arrival across all dimensions. She fearlessly overpowers the devil and triumphs all that is dark and evil.
6.Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra
The ambience here speaks of a city waking up from a spell to the footsteps of the Goddess. The pandemic is subtly represented as an evil charmer who has put an entire realm to a cursed sleep. Armoured with Her endless power, the Devi comes to the rescue and protect her children and ward off the evil eye.
7. Samaj Sebi Sangha
Like every other year, Samaj Sebi Sangha proves to their unfailing dedication to the lesser privileged of the society. This year, they have portrayed an imaginary bridge, connecting Ballygunge to the hamlet of Hingolganj, which has been devastated by the supercyclone Amphan this year. Every element in their pandal expresses solidarity and humane empathy with the families of the survivors.
Rested before Nataraja, the Devi here signifies the end of time – when Her Rudrani avatar is all set to destroy Creation, to give rise to life anew.
9. 95 Pally
Known for their exquisitely artistic themes, 95 Pally continues to impress this year with a subtle yet powerful representation of the timeless spirit that is Durga Puja.
10. Hindustan Park Sarbojonin
The theme aims to uphold the ancient ritual that is মানত or pledging before the deity. The custom prevails in Sanatan Dharma since time immemorial across the regional fabric of India. The pandal here highlights the integral elements of a Manot like the red thread twined around a brickbat, or the auspicious red-white saree. The idol here is depicted as a figurine carved on black stone, like the deity at many ancient temples across India.
11.Kashi Bose Lane
A giant water pot stands upturned at the entrance of the pandal, portraying an endless source of water. The Devi here is a gentle mother – the source of all life on earth.
12. Ekdalia Evergreen
Ekdalia continues to amaze with their tradition of an ornately embellished pandal, complete with a majestic manifestation of the Divine. And how can #pujaparikrama ever be complete without a glimpse of their iconic chandelier?
13.Dum Dum Park Tarun Sangha
Theme: Chalo Paltai (Let’s Change)
The pandal centres around a life-size statue of The Thinker, guarded by an angelic figure. The entire pandal comprises an elaborate network of scaffolding, behind which the gradual self-destruction of humanity has been vividly portrayed. A clock revolves around The Thinker, with hundreds of wooden arrows pointing downwards from the ceiling. The theme conveys a wake-up call to human civilisation in view of the present pandemic, urging them to change their ways of life in a manner to accommodate and embrace nature more closely.
14. Tridhara Sammilani
Theme: Ei Okaale Bodhon Thaak, Utsav Noy
With celebration taking a backfoot in their theme itself, Tridhara has prioritised the Mother’s puja over and above their usual grandeur. The Devi here is inspired by folklore and ancient idols. The Puja committee has also donated a part of their Puja fund this year to support underprivileged children with new clothes.
15. Singhi Park
Maintaining their focus on the festive spirit over and above an innovative theme, Singhi Park wins hearts again with their beautiful idol and pandal.
16. Chorebagan Sarbojonin
This well-acclaimed theme depicts the vision of a better future, built anew on the remnants of modern civilisation. The intricate work of wood and bamboo inside the pandal is mesmerising, as is the beautiful deity worshipped in all her motherly grace.
17. Ahiritola Jubak Brinda
Theme: Bhakti Tei Mukti (Liberation lies in Devotion)
One of the most spectacular pandals of 2020, Ahiritola Jubak Brinda brings alive the tradition of devotion in the religious history of Bengal. From the deities of rural folklore to the main idol of the Devi, the ambience is heavy with the unique features of Hinduism as perceived in Bengal over centuries. Patachitra takes the centre stage in the decor.
18. Beleghata Sandhani Club
Theme: Astitwa (Existence)
At a time when a deadly pandemic has seized the soul of the earth, here humanity is reminded that their existence is not defined or limited by the present. With thousands of faces in masks adorning the Mandap entrance, the unconventional theme presents hope in the form of divinity.
19. Maddox Square
2020 saw a deserted Maddox Square, the heartland of Kolkata’s Durga Puja; something that was unthinkable in decades. An eerie silence reigned over the grounds otherwise buoyant with a thousand happy voices. Nevertheless, the spirit of Puja lives on, with the hopes of a 2021 Puja thronged by the usual vibrant crowd.
20. Bagbazar Sarbojonin
Can Durga Puja ever be complete without a glimpse of Bagbazar Sarbojonin? Hailed for their Sabeki Protima, the pandal witnessed a silent Durga Puja for the first time in ages. An empty pandal welcomed a handful of rule-breakers who dared to venture out. But, life goes on, with the belief that Ma will shower her solace on the planet of despair and we will again hear Dhak on a better tomorrow.
Stay tuned as we reveal the final list of winners tomorrow at 4 PM. Shubho Bijoya. Ashchhe Bochhor Abar Hobe, Ager Moton!