With a toddler Ganesh on her lap,a homely Durga sits next to her husband,sons,sisters and a pet tiger. Her weapons lie neatly near her feet,the demon Mahishasur is nowhere in sight. The family smiles in Puja bonhomie…
The happy-family themed deities at a pandal in Chittaranjan Park represent a marked departure from the conventional demon-slaying pose attributed to the goddess during the Puja. Organisers of pandals spare no efforts to outdo each other when it comes to novelty.
The deities at Kalibari,Minto Park,have been placed in the backdrop of a thatched hut and trees. The idea is to spread the message of an eco-friendly and simple way of life, S S Basak,one of the organisers said,adding that the lighting at the pandal is done in a manner to save on electricity expenditure.
Basak stands alone in his thought since other organisers have stuck to the tradition of thematic grandeur in their pandals. The Durgotsav pandal in Greater Kailash-II resembles the palace in Natore (now in Bangladesh). The Puja pandal in B-Block,C R Park,has puppets as deities in keeping with their theme of promoting Kathputli,the string puppet theatre native to Rajasthan. The whole pandal is adorned with puppets of various shapes and sizes,clad in Rajasthani garments.
However,the zeal at being innovative may have backfired at a few puja pandals this year. Many of them have adopted a monastery look in their décor. A 16-foot Buddha,flanked on both sides by dragons,welcomes visitors to the Aarambagh Puja. This Buddhism theme is taken a step further at Maitri Mandir in Safdarjung Enclave. The pandal here is replete with pagodas,Buddhist paintings and prayer wheels with Durga chants written on them.
This is just a co-incidence, S Bhadra of Pocket-40,C R Park,says when asked about the overlap. The Pocket-40 puja pandal sports a Indo-Sino theme with hand-painted murals covering its walls and lights filtering through lampshades and multi-coloured umbrellas attached to the ceiling.
The thematic decorations of pandals attract both censure and praise from the crowds thronging in vast numbers since Saptami (seventh day of the Durga Puja).
It is the variety that makes pandal-hopping fun, Swarnali,a student,said.
Paromita,a C R Park resident,disagrees. Some of them go bizarre with their themes. for instance,there is no reason why the goddesses should have such short hair, she says commenting on the puppet-look given to the deities at Pocket-40 Puja pandal.