Durga puja 2021 had popularised a few new trends like chit-chatting with friends in bars and pubs, leading to more road accidents, and using a hosepipe to immerse the gigantic idols on Vijayadashami.
As the five-day celebration of Durga puja ends here in West Bengal on 15 October, the city eagerly waits for next year celebration dosages as they cheer themselves up by shouting ‘Asche Bochor Abar Hobe’ (Again next year). The Bengali excitement about Durga Puja never comes to an end.
The festival was celebrated in full swing as Covid waited for its turn the make its way to state headlines yet again. Though the puja committees and the visitors were seen taking considerable precautions, the air was heavily tensed with the anticipation of rising infections after the celebrations. The High Court had ordered people without the double vaccination will not be allowed to visit the pandals to curb the spread.
Still amid this chaos, like every year, the puja had popularised some new things and established others. One of them is the use of hosepipe to immerse the gigantic idols on Vijayadashami.
The new process of immersion
Firhad Hakim, the Chairperson for Board of Administration, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has tweeted about the new alternative method for idol immersion, forbidding the direct submersion of the idols into the river. Traditionally, the majestic Durga idols with her four kids are immersed in the holy waters of the Ganges, leading to water pollution.
So this year, KMC has made arrangements to completely immerse the idol using a hosepipe beside the river Ganga. The pipe is filled with the holy river’s water from the storage tank to protect the religious sentiment. The water after the process will directly flow to the drainage system without polluting the river.
The paint on the idol has lead, which is harmful to human health. A lot of nearby settlers are still dependent on the river for their regular water need.
Durga puja 2021 pandal themes
Most committees had to decrease the magnitude of their pandal’s grandeur due to Covid induced budget restrictions. But it had not deterred them to craft something striking and impactful. A majority of them have decided to portray the lost childhood due to the pandemic.
The Rajdanga Nabauday Sangha has underplayed their cane social media emoticons pandal with a traditional idol decorated with jewellery made of white foam board.
The Naktala Udayan Sangha, a famous south Kolkata puja club, has decided to paint the pain of the Bengal partition in the wake of the Afghanistan crisis. The idol had images of the pain-stricken face of the refugees.
Sreebhumi Sporting Club, another famous puja committee in Kolkata, had given its visitors a visual tour of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. The pandal was so popular among the youth that the authorities had to shut it down to control the crowd.
Ironically, the panda was just five minutes away from Mamata’s iconic Big Ben statue!
Durga Puja with friends in pubs and bars
Most of the young city-dwellers had spent their puja in newly-opened cafes and pubs. They were scared of contracting the virus in the pandals than in crowded pubs (cannot justify the statement). All pubs, irrespective of their stature and location, were filled to their brim. These had lead to multiple two-wheeler accidents.
The changing nature of the celebrations has increased the risk of accidents during the puja. But should we blame the police, who are busy controlling the thick crowd near the pandals? Well, according to the writer’s opinion, the answer is no!! Police can’t be held responsible for the bikers’ insensitivity.
In India, the driving licenses for both two and four-wheelers are allotted at 18 years, the official age of adulthood. Therefore, it is expected that they will be responsible enough to at least not drink and drive. Also, the usual number of vehicles on the road increases during the festival. The bikers should be aware of this too. In my opinion, their licenses should be cancelled for these five days as they are harmful to others too.
Most of them will argue to shut the bars and pubs down during puja to arrest drink and drive accidents. But this is not the solution. Remember! In India, any ban or curb always open the door for black marketing and overstocking. (Disclaimer: The religious argument of drinking alcohol during puja is not considered.)
Notably, the increasing trend of celebrating Durga Puja in bars and pubs began last year due to the pandemic, but this year has cemented the trend.