It is not uncommon to see celebrities and VIPs inaugurating pandals at the various Durga Pujas in Bengal, which has turned into an industry dictated by glamour and stardom. But, the organisers of Santoshpur Trikon Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab decided to do something different this year, and stood out amidst the cacophony by turning to the streets of Kolkata and inviting homeless and orphan children to inaugurate their puja on Wednesday. In addition, the club from South Kolkata also distributed food and clothes to these kids.
“The central premise of Durga Puja is worshipping a mother figure,” said Debasish Sarkar, vice-president of Santoshpur Trikon Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab. “While the opulent have the means to sustain themselves and indulge in ‘pandal-hopping’ across the city, they fail to recognise that the Goddess is the mother of the entire world,” he added.
The apex body of Durga Puja organisers in Kolkata, Forum For Durgotsab, conducts an annual camp to reach out to the homeless population of the city. Sarkar, who is a member of the Executive Committee of this body, said that in this club, he has strived for years to inculcate the same culture of reaching out to the underprivileged. “It gives me immense joy to know that my efforts have come to fruition,” he told indianexpress.com.
The inauguration ceremony is in harmony with the theme of the pandal at Santoshpur Trikon Park Sarbojanin Durgotsab. “Our theme for this year is ‘Uttaran’, or ascension, which depicts humanity’s brave fight in the face of every adversity, and their ascent to victory,” said artist Devjit Chakraborty who, alongside Subrata Saha, gave life to the pandal.
“These homeless orphans who inaugurated our pandal are among the bravest fighters in the war field of life; their ascent is an inspiration to each of us,” the artist added.
In a bid to reach out to the deprived section of the society, the organisers have planned donation camps throughout this Durga Puja. “On saptami (seventh day of puja), we will provide clothes to 300 people from the slums of Kolkata, and on Ashtami (eighth day of puja), we will feed 200 slum dwellers, besides distributing prasad among devotees in the locality,” Sarkar said.
“Looking beyond the blinding lights of themes and commercialisation, this year, we have decided to lend a helping hand to those who are otherwise left behind. In short, we want to live up to the tag of being ‘Sarbojanin’ by making Durga Puja a celebration for one and all,” the organiser concluded.