Sunday, 25 September 2011


Every year, West Bengal celebrates a festival called Durga Puja, reminiscing how Maa Durga killed Mahishasura, the demon! Come Pujas and Calcutta is filled with pandals. This morning I came across a piece in The Telegraph showing the innovation and creativity people employ to create pandals. Here it is:

Welcome rain for herb worshipper.

Theme-makers across the city may be a worried lot, what with the daily showers jeopardising their preparations for Durga Puja, but Bapai Sen can’t stop grinning. The man from Lake Gardens had made his plans with an eye on the sky. “The more it rains the easier it makes things for me,” he smiles. All the three pandals that he is in charge of have vegetation as their key element. At 64 Palli Puja Parishad, on Manoharpukur Road, he has planted saplings of 80 types of medicinal plants.
“All of them — sandalwood, spinach, rudraksha, brahmi, chirota and nayantara — are growing so well in the rain. I am even growing paddy on slices of bamboo poles on the pandal walls,” he says.
Once a chain-smoker, he had kicked the butt with help from ayurveda. “Extracts of banana leaf and half a spoon of haritaki worked helped me get rid of my addiction.” He will be advertising the benefits of each of the medicinal plants through attached posters at the pandal.
“Did you know Nayantara is good for blood cancer and high blood pressure?” he asks.
At a Moore Avenue puja, he is growing ladies’ finger, pumpkin and other vegetables to depict rural Bengal. It is here that the rain is helping him the most. At Chittaranjan Smriti Mandir, near Kadamtala, he has grown a field of paddy. “The iron content in the Howrah water is too high. The rain water is working better,” he says.

I hope after reading this, not only will you enjoy looking at the pandals but also appreciate the labour which goes into making the Pujas a success! :)
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