The Durga Puja carnival at Kolkata’s Red Road will be held on Saturday after two years with at least 90 puja committees participating in the event.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and dignitaries from foreign embassies, consulates and the UNESCO will be present on the occasion. State Information and Culture Minister Indranil Sen and Chief Secretary Harikrishna Dwivedi held separate preparatory meetings. In a meeting with the Puja organisers, the Kolkata Police have issued a set of guidelines. Of the nearly 100 pujas the state government had shortlisted for the carnival, 10 will not be present, it is learnt.
“Some puja committees do the immersion of idol on Vijaya Dashami. The 10 committees said they cannot change their tradition and hence showed their unwillingness to participate. This time, the Naktala Udayan Sangha committee was not invited to the carnival. Former minister Partha Chatterjee, who has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the school jobs scam, was the main patron of this puja. The CM, unlike other years, did not inaugurate this puja,” an official said.
Anjan Das, a Naktala Udayan Sangha organiser, said, “We do not know why we were not invited. We even do not know why many prizes were not given. We are happy that a large number of people came to see our pandal.”
The programme will start with a show by the Kolkata Police’s ‘Daredevil’ force. Then there will a dance performance by Donna Ganguly, wife of former Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly. Since Donna is reportedly infected with chikungunya, there is uncertainty about her performance. Officials from several embassies have been invited to the carnival this time. Prominent industrialists, including members of the chambers of commerce, are also on the invitees’ list.
Nearly 2,500 police personnel and 1,200 firefighters will be deployed near the venue, an official said. Joint Commissioner of Police (headquarters) Shubhankar Sarkar also held a meeting with the representatives of the puja committees who will participate in the carnival in Alipore bodyguard line. The officers incharge of all police stations were also present in the meeting.
Every puja committee will decorate only three tableaux and will showcase their programme for three minutes, the guidelines say. Each club or puja committee can arrange a precession but the number of participants will have to not more than 50. The Durga idol, including the height of vehicle, should not be more than 16 feet tall, it was specified.
In the wake of the death of at least eight people in a flash flood in the Mal river in Jalpaiguri during immersion of Durga idol, the BJP on Thursday demanded that the carnival across the state be postponed. BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “We cannot just blame nature for the incident. The local administration is responsible for the tragic accident. The government should take responsibility for this. Why was the water level raised by throwing boulders on one side? People are dying and carnival will be organised here.”