Saturday, November 27

Revival signs: Siddhidata Ganesha helps Kolkata’s Kumartuli beat Covid blues

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The deity synonymous with wealth and prosperity has brought some respite to Kumartuli idol-makers, reeling under severe losses after cancellation of several orders of Durga idols from Covid-ravaged USA and the UK and uncertainty over the festival in the state later this year.

Several families, residential complexes and businessmen who organise Ganesha Puja every year have started placing orders for idols, triggering activity in the potters’ quarters in north Kolkata that was wearing a desolated look since the lockdown. According to idol-makers, they have received orders for more than 140 Ganesha idols already, though smaller in size compared to previous years. These are mostly by those who organise pujas in their complexes or business establishments. Earlier this year, several orders for Ganesha and Annapurna idols were cancelled during Poila Baisakh. Last year, there were close to 1,200 Ganesha Pujas in the city.

“But something is better than nothing,” said Prodyut Paul of Gour Chand Paul and Sons, one of the biggest idolmakers and exporters in Kumartuli. “The work has started in the past four to five days. We are also keeping some idols of Durga and Kali ready in our godowns,” he said.

Most Ganesha idols being built now are less than 9ft in height. “It is going to be a rudimentary affair this year. Till now, we have received close to 140 orders. Many do not want to skip organising Ganesha Puja this year because it’s a god associated with wealth and prosperity, something we all need,” said Debanjan Paul, an idol-maker in Kumartuli.

The last few years have witnessed a steep rise in the number of Ganesha Pujas in the city. The prime reason is the heightened prayer for prosperity among both non-Bengalis and Bengalis. Then, there is the spotlight factor of this festival becoming more visible — from the streets of Mumbai to the screens of Bollywood.

Businessman Anshul Sehgal has been celebrating Ganesha Puja in his CIT Road home for the past 40 years. “It is a tradition established by my grandfather. Though we will continue the tradition this year, we will scale it down to a very basic-level family affair,” said Sehgal.

Community Ganesha Pujas, too, will be a muted affair this year due to social distancing norms. They have also decided to scale down the celebrations and cancel inauguration and immersion ceremonies along with cultural programmes. “We have applied for the permission to organize Ganesha Puja. We are waiting for the criteria set by the government,” said the secretary of a Ganesha Puja in central Kolkata.

Source:Times of India

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