When Devipaksha starts on Saturday members of a Kumartuli puja committee will be busy with the idol in their neighbourhood. A few others will be in Kultali, about 100km from the city, overseeing puja preparations there.
This year, Kumartuli Sarbojonin Durgotsav Committee has decided to organise Durga Puja for some 800-odd residents of Shyamnagar, a village in Kultali, still struggling to recover in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan.
This will be the first time a Durga Puja will be held at Shyamnagar and members of the Kumartuli puja committee have decided to adorn the interiors of their pandal at Kumartuli with pictures of gleaming faces from this village.
“The cyclone had left behind a trail of devastation; we were looking to visit a village with relief materials. We contacted some of our men in Kultali who visit us every year to help us lift the Durga idol. They recommended Shyamnagar,” Debasish Bhattacharya of Kumartuli sarbojonin said.
“We have decided to hold a small puja at this village, utilising a portion of our funds. The smiling faces of these villagers during Durga Puja will be our biggest reward.”
After the initial rounds of visits to Shyamnagar, the committee members sat down with some of the villagers in September and finalised the plan to organise Durga Puja there.
A small ground at the end of the village was identified for the villagers to set up a small pandal. The Kumar-tuli sarbojonin members will take the idol from Calcutta, along with various items needed for Durga Puja.
The puja will be organised at an estimated cost of Rs 3 lakh.
In Calcutta, the committee members decided to trim down their puja expenses to meet the expenses of the puja in Kultali and accordingly two idols were ordered, the one for Shyamnagar smaller.
“While going through some of photographs of our visit to Shyamnagar, we decided to decorate our pandal with the faces of villagers. We will have them framed and they will be all over the interiors of the pandal,” a committee member said.
The decision to organise the Durga Puja brought smiles on the faces of Shyamnagar villagers, many of who usually walk down a kilometre to be part of the festival in an adjoining village every year.
“Amader pujo chhilo na. Ei bar hobey (We did not have a puja of ours; this time we will have one),” Alok Das, a villager, said.
Some villagers were sceptical about outsiders organising Durga Puja. A few had asked if this would be the first and last time. “We assured the villagers we would with them till they were ready to organise a puja on their own,” Bhattacharya said. “The idea is to ensure when we see the lights in Calcutta, our brothers and sisters in Shyamnagar, too, will enjoy theirs.”