KOLKATA: How will this year’s Durga Puja be? Pujo committees in Kolkata, London, Wales and the Netherlands came together on the web on Saturday to find an answer to the nagging question in the minds of Bengalis across the world.
The webinar organized by the London_based London Sharad Utsav (LSU) and Bengal Heritage Foundation as part of their “Think Tank” series titled “Coronasurmardini” was about the impact of the Covid pandemic on Durga Pujo globally in 2020. The session was christened “Coronasurmardini”, borrowed from “Mahisasurmardini” based on the mythological story of goddess Durga’s victory over the “asura” that earns her this name. The webinar had viewers from India and Europe. The participants were Bidisha Datta from LSU, Sandeep Raha from Wales Pujo Committee, Prithwish Majumdar from Sujan Bengali Cultural Society – Dublin, Saptarshi Basu from Kolkata’s Ballygunge Cultural Association, Subir Das from Bhowanipur 75 Palli, Avishek Bhattacharya from Forum for Durgotsab and was hosted by Swagata Ghosh from Bath Spa University and Arnab Basu, Partner, PwC, from Kolkata. The series was designed and directed by Suranjan Som from the London-based Bengal Heritage Foundation (BHF).
Sourav Niyogi, president, BHF and trustee, LSU, spoke about how the two organizations worked jointly to raise £20,047 for Bengal’s cyclone-hit people.
“The Pujo webinar was a wonderful transnational opportunity for people across various parts of the world organising Pujos to come together and share experiences on some of the challenges we are facing in preparing for one of the world’s largest public festivals. Despite uncertainties, the best part was the opportunity to break boundaries between Pujo near and far, small and big, old and new,” said Swagata Ghosh.
There were inputs on how Durga Pujo 2020 can be organized following government guidelines from several prominent “Kallol” of Netherlands, Atanu Dutta, president of RBBA Durga Pujo, Slough, Kavita Basu from Panchamukhee, London, Karthik Banerjee from NGO Vivek in Kolkata, Dhiresh Chowdhury of another Kolkata-based NGO, Banchbo.
Stakeholders like Mintu Pal, secretary of Kumartuli Idolmakers’ Association, Kaushik Ghosh who exports idols outside India, a street food vendor and a lighting technician from Kolkata spoke on how Covid has affected the multicore Durga Puja industry.
Bidisha Datta of LSU said “In challenging times like this we need innovation more than ever. Hopefully we will be able to create the Pujo spirit in a safe way for people in London”.
Subir Das from Bhowanipur 75 Palli said, “This year’s Pujo is dedicated to all the frontline workers who sacrificed to heal the world from this pandemic.” Arnab Basu, the moderator of the webinar, said, “This year will be the true test of our resilience and optimism as we celebrate Durga Puja ensuring all the above while maintaining social distance and battling reduced sponsorship.”
Saptarshi Basu from Ballygunge Cultural Association said “We are passing through difficult times, a big challenge in front of us yet we have the wish to organize Durga Puja this year. Given the new norms but we will try our best to make it happen and ensure livelihoods are maintained as much as possible.”