From Kolkata to Mumbai: Durga Puja organisers face fund crunch under Covid shadow

Durga Puja festivities are solely days away. Covid-19 is about to flip two, and the pandemic in India in March 2020 continues to impression Durga Puja for the second 12 months in a row. Organisers in several states are going through a fund crunch. Sponsors and advertisers are few, drying up their primary income.

Covid-19 protocols for organising festivals are in place with native administration preserving a detailed eye on particular person occasions. Durga Puja celebrations this 12 months are anticipated to be a low-key affair. Organisers are specializing in smaller and eco-friendly idols. They are making efforts to increase their digital presence by organising live-streaming of artis and on-line cultural programmes.

Durga Puja this 12 months begins on October 6 with Mahalaya, which marks the start of Devi Paksha. However, the height of the five-day Durga Puja festivities will start from October 11 and finish on Dusshera, which falls on October 15.

READ: 100 people are allowed under the guidelines of the upcoming festive season: Check the complete details

Let us take a look at how puja committees in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai are getting ready for one of many largest pageant occasions within the nation.

KOLKATA

Suruchi Sangha, a membership primarily based in Kolkata’s New Alipur, is thought to host one of the crucial common Durga Puja celebrations within the metropolis. The membership was, on the time of the submitting of this report, awaiting the order of the Calcutta High Court on how to organise the pageant within the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A member of the membership stated Covid-19 scenario triggered a pointy drop of their price range for the previous two years. He stated the bills had been being managed via donations and surplus price range of the previous.

“Suruchi Sangha is such a committee where there is no need to go and ask for donations. Those who can give ‘anudan’ [donation] whatever they feel like. Members try to donate as per their capacity. The budget has significantly dropped,” the member said.

Durga idol at Suruchi Sangha, a club based in Kolkata’s New Alipur, in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

“Fund collection has dropped in the past two years as the number of hoardings, sponsors and advertisements declined. We had some surplus budget from the past years. We are using that to manage puja this year in addition to whatever donation we are receiving this year. We never deprive artists and workers of their fees,” the member said.

The club member said that given the popularity of its puja event, screens were installed outside the pandal. If visitors are permitted inside the pandal this year, security will be beefed up to ensure maximum social distancing, he said.

On the other side, the club has made arrangements for elderly people to offer ‘anjali’ on Ashtami (eighth day of the festival) while adhering to Covid-19 protocol.

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“The club has separately formed a committee, whose responsibility is to collect religious offerings from houses and offer them on behalf of those families during the anjali ceremony,” said the member.

Another famous Durga Puja event is organised by Tridhara Sammilani in South Kolkata. It is celebrating its 75th year this puja. However, it will be a muted affair this year. The club is facing a fund crunch due to cost-cutting by sponsors and a financial crisis caused due to the pandemic.

“Funds have come down to 10 per cent. Even our everlasting sponsors will not be coming to us in the meanwhile due to cost-cutting and the financial disaster. Earlier, we used to get Rs 5 lakh, however now we’re not even getting Rs 1 lakh. Maintaining every thing is a problem with out enough funds,” said Gargi Mukherjee, spokesperson of Tridhara.

Durga idol at Tridhara Sammilani in South Kolkata in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

“We have reduce down on our puja bills. We will not be even getting donations. Even committee members will not be ready to give a lot, so we’ve got requested them for no matter they may give, starting from meals to cash,” she added.

As part of Covid-19 protocol, anjali offerings will be allowed only in front of the digital screens put up right outside the pandal in the same way as 2020. Only a priest, his assistants and dhakis will be allowed inside the pandal.

DELHI

Chittaranjan Park, popularly called CR Park, is known as Delhi’s ‘mini Bengal’. It comes to life during Durga Puja every year. However, Durga Puja celebrations will be muted for the second consecutive year here.

Here too, a fund crunch is the biggest issue for the CR Park Kali Mandir Society, the organiser of the Durga Puja event.

“Donations or funds have gone down to 10 per cent now. Before Covid-19 pandemic, we used to have funds amounting to crores of rupees. We are proscribing bills. We will not be getting donations. So, we’re asking committee members for donations. We nonetheless don’t have sponsors and there may be nonetheless no assurance from them,” said Prodip Ganguly, general secretary.

Durga idol at CR Park Kali Mandir Society in Delhi in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

Organisers have also reached out to local MLAs and councillors for donations. The event will go completely digital this year, restricting entry to only committee members. No guidelines, however, have been released by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) yet.

“We have a complete of 1,500 members. We won’t have any prasad distribution this 12 months however bhog can be distributed to members primarily based on bookings for which we’ve got one contact level in every block,” Ganguly said.

CCTVs have been connected through the office of district magistrate to keep a tab on Covid-19 violations. “We have tied up with Den and Tata Sky for CCTVs and screens can be put in within the puja corridor,” he said.

In 2020, only limited people were allowed to enter the pandal. (Photo: India Today)

He further said that cultural programmes would be streamed online like in the previous year.

“Dance programmes and anandamela had been organised on-line final 12 months. Going on-line has not been a problem as we’ve got lakhs of viewers even overseas. So far, there are 300 names for numerous competitions. We can have dry runs in order that these programmes may be held on-line with none last-minute glitches. Also, dhunuchi naach and pushpanjali can be live-streamed on-line,” Ganguly said.

Purbachal Bangiyo Samiti, an umbrella organisation of 38 puja committees in East Delhi, recently met Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The Samiti said 20 people would be permitted inside the pandals.

Citing the fund crunch, Samiti general secretary Mrinal Biswas said, “No online donations will be made. Ten to 12 cameras will be installed to boost our digital presence, but it is a slight challenge for us as the reach is little.”

Dhunuchi naach being carried out in entrance of Durga Maa in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

“A metal tank will be installed for Visarjan. Only seven to eight members will be allowed. The idol will be made in an eco-friendly manner with tulsi clay being used,” he stated.

Visarjan of Maa Durga in a steel tank in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

MUMBAI

In the nation’s monetary capital, Bengal Club Shivaji Park can be celebrating the 86th 12 months of Durga Puja, however the celebrations can be subdued this 12 months in view of the pandemic. It is among the uncommon Durga Puja organisers that stated there was no fund crunch.

“With the blessings of Maa Durga, we have enough funds to celebrate the festival with enthusiasm with no compromise. We are getting sponsors but there are low-scale earnings in terms of cost-cutting by the sponsors,” stated Prasoon Rakshit, spokesperson of the membership.

He acknowledged that the membership has mounted sponsors and their donations additionally come from sports activities actions, puja actions, cultural programmes and humanitarian work.

School of disadvantaged college students adopted by Bengal membership on the opening ceremony of Durga Puja in 2019. (Photo: India Today)

“We will be following the same guidelines which were issued for Ganesh Chaturthi and other festivals by the local civic body and the state government. Our idol will be four feet high and will be placed inside the puja hall of the Bengal Club this year, just like how it was done last year,” stated Prasoon Rakshit.

The membership has arrange CCTVs and tied up with a cable organiser for the viewers to get a glimpse of the darshan which can be live-streamed, he stated.

“We will go live on the website and on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. We have a dedicated IT cell who looks after the technicalities,” Rakshit stated.

He additional stated that the membership has began on-line donations and they’re receiving donations from individuals.

The Bombay Durga Bari Samiti, which has been organising Durga Puja for the final 92 years, stated that it was receiving sponsors due to the sustained efforts of the members, and that people and households continued to make donations from everywhere in the world.

Asked whether or not they had been going through any fund crunch for organising the puja, Susmita Mitra, president, Bombay Durga Bari Samiti stated, “We have enabled PayTM to facilitate easier payment systems as well. Having said this, it has been a challenge to raise funds to keep the current market conditions and the pandemic in mind.”

Maa Durga portray utilized by Bombay Durga Bari Samiti in 2020. (Photo: India Today)

In mild of the pandemic and the protection of the members and devotees, a no-guest Durga Puja can be organised this 12 months by the Bombay Durga Bari Samiti. This would be the second time that the Bombay Durga Bari Samiti can be having a ceremonial ‘ghot puja’ as an alternative of ‘murti puja.’

Ghot puja means worshipping an urn symbolising the goddess. There can be two urns symbolising Durga and every of her kids.

Traditional rituals similar to pushpanjali, arti, sandhi puja and bhog can be carried out at Indian Medical Association Hall, Haji Ali and can be digitally broadcast on the organiser’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

A 3-dimensional mural has been conceptualised. It is made from clay and hay by an artisan from the inside of Kolkata. The mural can be adorned with conventional ‘shola pith’ — an eco-friendly and bio-degradable materials. Everything from goddess Durga’s saree to her headgear can be created from shola pith.

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