Mamata magic: Puja marquees go through ‘poriborton’

By Pradipta Tapadar, IANS,

Kolkata : The Durga Puja fervour is at its peak and it’s turning out to be Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s show as many of the themes at community marquees here have been woven around her massive electoral victory over the Left Front.

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Unlike some of her ministers and other ruling Trinamool Congress leaders who are the moving force behind many community pujas, the state’s first woman chief minister is not directly associated with any of the organising committees.

But the 56-year-old ‘didi’ — elder sister, as she is affectionately called — is a big presence in the tales told through creative lighting displays and selection of themes in many marquees at the five-day autumn festival, the biggest in eastern India.

Several puja committees have invested huge amounts to depict her ascendance to the chief minister’s post in May this year, ending the 34 years of communist rule.

“This year, we received hundreds of request from various puja organisers of both Kolkata and nearby districts for making light decorations which depict Banerjee’s victory in the polls,” said Babu Pal of Pal Electric company, a famed light and sound decoration institute.

Many of the light decorations depict Banerjee entering the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings, showing the ‘V’ for victory sign with her pet slogan – ‘Maa Mati Manush’ and the colour of Writers’ Buildings changing from red to green — the Trinamool party colour.

The Puja organisers have also zeroed in on themes which tell the tale of the ‘change of guard in the state’.

Bhawanipore Gol Math Sarbojonis Durgo Puja committee this year has chosen the theme ‘Bonger Durga’ (Durga of Bengal), which indirectly describes the recent political change in the state.

“Though we have not named any political party or leader, through this theme we are trying to portray the political change that has taken place in Bengal after 34 years,” said Lal Mohan Mishra, a member of the puja organising committee.

The marquee houses the picture of goddess Durga within a map of Bengal defeating the six demons.

Banerjee’s austere lifestyle and indomitable struggle to the seat of power has prompted puja organisers to dwell on the theme of women’s empowerment.

“We have taken up the theme of women’s empowerment which states that a woman is not only born to look after her family, but can also serve the nation with the same or more zeal than a male leader.

“The theme has shades of Banerjee’s life and struggle,” said Dinesh Bajaj, secretary, Mohammed Ali Park Puja committee in central Kolkata.

Then there’s one that has formed a women-only puja committee.

Bhaswati Sarkar, secretary of Puja organising committee, said: “This is the first time that our club has formed an organising panel comprising only women. We are organising everything.”

There was also a competition among organisers to get Banerjee to inaugurate Durga Pujas. The chief minister’s office and her Kalighat residence received over 1,000 invitations from organisers.

Such was the pressure on her that Banerjee had to hop from one marquee to other for the inaugurations starting Sep 30. Sources in the chief minister’s office said Banerjee shortlisted 24 pujas which she launched up to Shashti Sunday.

During her tenure as opposition leader also, Banerjee used to get a lot of invitations for opening the Pujas, but they pale in number compared to the craze this year.

Besides, Banerjee again took up the brush for the puja guide map brought out by the Kolkata Police. The volume features paintings of Maa Durga done by Banerjee, including one on the cover.

(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at [email protected])