PUNE: The Bengali community in Pune ushered in Durga Puja celebrations at prominent pandals on Tuesday. The four oldest pandals in the city, Bangiya Sanskriti Samsad at Congress Bhavan, Bengali Association at Apte Road, Banga Bharati in Pimpri and Kali Bari in Khadki, were all decked up.
Kali Bari Samiti being the oldest pandal, was thronged by Bengalis. Anup Datta, General Secretary of the Samiti, said, “This year the theme of the pandal is based on a replica of the Lotus Temple in Delhi. The decoration of the pandal was done by an artist from Kolkata two months ago.”
Every year, the inauguration of the pandal is done by three paraplegic soldiers from the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre at Khadki. Datta said that on October 1, a fusion of Bengali and Maharashtrian traditions would be witnessed as Dhol Tasha and Bengali Dhak (drums) will be performed.
The Durga pandal at Congress Bhavan in Shivajinagar depicts rural Bengal. Madhumita Ghosh, Vice President of Bangiya Sanskriti Samsad, said, “We are keeping culture and tradition alive in the heart of the city for the last 33 years. Several pandals have been coming up recently, because the city is growing and only one or two pandals won’t suffice.”
Devotees are still attached to the core pandals so that the authenticity remains the same despite the decorations at the pandals. Somdutta Dasgupta, Cultural Chairman of Bengali Association, said about the Apte Road pandal, “Replicating Kolkata pandals is difficult as it needs a lot of money and there are no typical Bengali artists who can do it well here. The main attraction will be two skits on ‘How people in government offices work’, and ‘It’s very easy to find fault in others’.”.
Members from Banga Bharati in Pimpri-Chinchwad will be celebrating Durga Puja for the 32nd year. Food being an integral part of the celebrations, sweetmeat makers called ‘moyras’ and cooks have come from Kolkata specially for the festivities. Tirtha Mukherjee, Chairman Trustee Committee, Banga Bharati, said, “Artisans have crafted an entrance gate that resembles the ‘Atchala’ (eight eaves), is a style of temple architecture. Sticking to an eco-friendly approach, the idols have been made of ‘Ganga Mitti’, sand from river bed of the River Ganga.”