City in festive zeal as artistes from Kolkata make Durga Utsav special

Neha Basudkar
Friday, 29 September 2017

Pune: The prominent Durga pandals in the city put up by various Bengali communities is leaving no stone unturned to get the dhakis (drummers), artisans and cooks from Kolkata - all for that uniquely Bengali flavour of festivities. 

Pune: The prominent Durga pandals in the city put up by various Bengali communities is leaving no stone unturned to get the dhakis (drummers), artisans and cooks from Kolkata - all for that uniquely Bengali flavour of festivities. 

To play the ‘dhak’ and ‘kasar ghanta’, the dhakis come all the way from Kolkata. The dhakis are people playing this instrument for generations, learning at the age of 10. Rest of the year, they pull rickshaws in Kolkata or do farming to make their ends meet. 
A man’s forte till now, women from urban areas of Kolkata are now gradually taking up this instrument. 

Naru Das, a dhaki at Bangiya Sanskriti Samsad’s pandal in Congress Bhavan has come with his two sons, Tarak, also a dhaki, and Sujan, who plays the kasar ghanta. “Playing a dhak is in our blood, we can’t even remember which generation in our family started this traditi

Similarly, the two dhakis at Bengali Association’s pandal at Apte Road - Mansa and Bishwant Luidas are brothers from Midnapur. 

Manas said they earn more in big cities like Mumbai and Pune than in Kolkata. “In Pune, we earn around Rs 23,000, while in Kolkata we earn only Rs 15,000,” Manas said.

Artisan Kaushik Mukherjee has accompanied the dhakis from West Bengal and is the man behind building the pandals at Kalibari in Khadki since 2014. Mukherjee, an Arts graduate said, “This year’s theme is ‘Lotus temple’ of Delhi and it is made from fabric and wood. Along with my associates, I have completed it in a month’s time.”

Taste of Bengali cuisine
Most of the pandals in the city offer a taste of Bengal as even the cooks are from West Bengal. Padmalochan Sahu, a cook whose specialty is Bengali cuisine, has come with seven helpers to prepare delicacies at Banga Bharati pandal in Pimpri. Sahu said, “For last 37 years I am settled in Kolkata and my specialty is Bengali non-vegetarian and Chinese dishes.”

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