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Inspirational Northern Pandals

Tehnaz Dastoor

Walking through North Kolkata’s by-lanes you truly feel transported into another world as you are surrounded by numerous heritage buildings, albeit some in a dilapidated state, but beautifully decorated for the Pujos, where and you can experience some of the most cerebral and though-provoking pandals of the city. Wotweb.com brings to you a few of these magnificent works of art.

Hathi Bagan Sarbojanin led with the theme of hundreds of parrots perched throughout the entrance, with a large totem pole in the center and a children’s merry-go-round of oversized moving birds playing with each other.

Just as the parrots were swinging from their perches the Durga Pantheon too were seen suspended in the air and swinging in a care-free manner. The Hatibagan Sarbojanin’s theme perhaps depicts the desire to overcome the vicissitudes of daily life.  The birds signify the freedom of the human spirit and its desire to soar and fly away.

As you enter the Kashi Bose Lane pandal, you hear these wonderful melodies playing through the loud speakers and notice large figurines dancing to the music. Once inside the main hall a model of a trio of western musicians take center stage and on the side you hear the live dhak beats from the drummers.  The deities too are composed in classical dance poses.

Kashi Bose Lane takes worshippers on a nostalgic ride celebrating the power of music.  Using sounds associated with the pujas as well as the variegated musical heritage of north Calcutta which has all but disappeared, this seems like a giant music and dance concert in honor of the goddess.

In Kumartuli Park, Jamini Roy paintings decorate the walls of the inner room and the Pantheon are seated on lotus leaves with 5 animals and birds accompanying them.

Kumartuli Park celebrates tradition through the idols but brings to the Pandal a sense of architectural triumph and grandeur.

Kumartuli Sarbojanin in the artisans’ quarter, shows the cycle of the pujas from the creation of the idols from straw and clay to adorning them with accoutrements to bidding them farewell as symbolized by the presence of a lorry outside the structure.

This Pandal is a celebration of all those Kumatuli potters who work tirelessly throughout the year to produce these beautiful idols not only for the pujas in Bengal and India, but also for many overseas.

In an salutary attempt to draw attention to the needs of the differently-abled, Nalin Sarkar Street Sarbojananin presents an unconventional image with the goddess cradling a differently-abled child.  The use of wheel chairs, crutches and letter boxes with the photographs of children is a poignant reminder of the constant physical and emotional hardships faced by the differently abled.

Perhaps this is a reminder to us all that everyone is a recipient of Ma Durga’s attention as we see her holding an emaciated and sick child in her arms. The beauty of this pandal is that it is the only one where Goddess Durga is in the form of an ordinary and compassionate mother cradling her sick child.

The Sikdar Bagan puja depicts images and stories from mythology in an aesthetically pleasing manner reminiscent of puppets from South India.

We find the turtle carrying the humans and Lord Shiva who has turned blue after consuming the poison depicted well here.