Several Durga Puja organisers in Kolkata have themed the marquees and idols on issues such as farmers’ agitation, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the partition of India. Naktala Udayan Sangha, one of the prominent clubs, has themed its pandal on refugee migration by train.
“We have recreated a train coming with refugees from Pakistan to showcase the sufferings of the displaced people,” Naktala Udayan Sangha spokesperson Samrat Nandi told PTI. Conceived and executed by Bhabatosh Sutar, the depiction drew references from Khushwant Singh’s novel ‘Train to Pakistan’ and Atin Bandyopadhyay’s ‘Neelkantho Pakhir Khoje’.
Barisha Club in Behala has themed its puja on NRC, highlighting the plight of displaced people. Titled ‘Bhager Maa’ (divided mother), the pensive-looking idol of the goddess symbolises the plight of hundreds of mothers who had to leave their dwellings and head for uncertainty.However, she is seen clutching an idol of Durga symbolising that she is determined to continue the puja, which used to be celebrated with much fanfare at her ancestral home.
The marquee is divided into two parts India and Bangladesh. The mother and her children wait in the no man’s land, in a cage-like structure with her children and belongings.
Rintu Das, who conceptualised the theme, told reporters, “The partition days have come back to haunt us as there are talks of sending back people who have made this country their home for ages. Hope the history is not repeated.”
Organisers of the Dumdum Park Bharat Chakra Club puja depicted the farmers’ stir, placing a replica of a tractor on the path to the pandal. The tractor has two wings with the names of farmers killed in the agitation written on those.
The puja also courted controversy over the use of hundreds of shoes to depict the police action on the agitating farmers when they had to run helter-skelter. The BJP accused the organisers of hurting religious sentiments and demanded that the shoes be removed immediately from the pandal.