A puja aims “tall” to connect with masses

Telling concepts and creativity help 67-year-old venue make a mark since 2014

GUWAHATI: Aiming tall and connecting big. That’s how the Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee here has established an “identity” over the past four years, even though it has been there since 1951.

The “departure from tradition” by having a theme-based puja with a tall Durga idol was like a game changer for the 67-year-old puja since the year 2014, with people thronging the venue in large numbers, and more importantly, relating to the unique aspects that the puja offers over five days.

As a matter of fact, the 102-foot-tall bamboo idol of Goddess Durga last year had not only attracted close to 13lakh people to the puja at Fatasil Ambari but put the structure in the race for the Guinness Book of World Records.

“The concept of having tall structures and themes happened in 2014, thanks to our think-tank led by Biren Sarkar. Talented artists from places such as Nagaon, Chaygaon and Pathsala were roped in and the combination of art and concepts brought about a synergy that has grown over the years,” Prasanta Bose, media adviser of the committee, told The Shillong Times on Thursday.

Bishnupur is among the over 600 pujas organised within the jurisdiction of Kamrup metro district every year.

This year, the theme of the puja is “My India”. “The idea this year is to recall the supreme and selfless sacrifices of our freedom fighters. Our country sadly is still lagging behind despite abundant resources. Through the concept we will highlight present-day issues, which are taking India backwards and hindering development, such as terrorism, corruption and dynastic politics,” Bose said.

Carvings of Sardar Ballab Bhai Patel, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Maniram Dewan and Kanaklata apart from a few significant events during India’s freedom struggle are being prepared on thermocol. “We are using thermocol, jute, plaster of Paris and brick-red paint to give a strong feel of the contributions of our valiant freedom fighters,” he said.

Prior to 2014, the puja however was known only in the vicinity and to people in a few localities even as it shares space with a school established in 1975.

“Now with the attractive structures in place, we have people from not just the city making beelines from morning till night. So much so that last year people kept on coming to the venue to catch a glimpse of the tall structure even after puja,” Bose said.

Twelve artists from Chaygaon are being supervised by Manjit Kalita from Pathsala and other members of the committee had started work on a 76-foot tall Durga since July this year. “Work will be more or less completed by this evening,” Kalita said.

This year, the committee has a bigger budget, thanks to the brand name it has established, with corporate firms, sponsors and donors not thinking twice before contributing.

“We have kept a budget of Rs 35lakh this year. Last year it was Rs 27lakh. The budgets have swollen with inflation and since the theme is big, we cannot compromise on funds. Thankfully, the flow of money has not been a problem as we have established an identity that companies and people want to be readily associated with,” Bose said.



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